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Apr 11

Transparency in Philanthropy: An Analysis of Accountability, Fallacy, and Volunteerism

A book event co-hosted by The Philanthropy Roundtable.

Philanthropic organizations are obligated to provide certain types of transparency – the types that are required by the federal tax system and by state laws aimed at maintaining the donor’s intent. But current heightened calls for transparency are based on other rationales: Transparency is a good unto itself and more should be required of all institutions, it is needed to ensure that philanthropy serves “public purposes,” it will counteract the “power asymmetry” between foundations and grantees, and it is necessary for a proper evaluation of philanthropic effectiveness. Upon examination, however, John Tyler would argue that none of these rationales justifies additional legally imposed philanthropic transparency, which is what advocates demand.

Even though there is not much of an argument for requiring more philanthropic transparency as a matter of law, there are good arguments for foundations providing a certain amount of transparency on a voluntary basis. This would not be a wholesale disclosure of information but measured transparency, undertaken in light of a foundation’s mission and the costs that such disclosure might entail. John Tyler’s intent in Transparency in Philanthropy is to encourage philanthropies and nonprofits to plan their transparency strategy and to do so carefully and thoughtfully.

More About the Speakers

John Tyler
General Counsel, Secretary, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, author of Transparency in Philanthropy

Rick Cohen
National Correspondent, Nonprofit Quarterly

Heather Higgins
Co-Founder, Alliance for Charitable Reform

Hosted By

John Von Kannon John Von Kannon

Vice President and Senior Counselor Read More