Kresge joins the ranks of foundations that make public details about their operations
Foundation Center evaluates website content to award “glass pockets” designation.
The Foundation Center has added The Kresge Foundation to its roster of philanthropies that demonstrate transparency and accountability by making information about their grantmaking, finances, and governance available online.
Much of the information is similar to what nonprofit organizations are asked to provide when they apply for grants from foundations. Making the same disclosures to the public is an opportunity to lead by example, says Janet Camarena, director of the Foundation Center-San Francisco.
The Foundation Center staff identified 20-plus “best practices” for providing online access to information such as tax returns, audits, foundation policies, and approaches to awarding grants.
Those best practices serve as the criteria for the Foundation Center’s “glass pockets” website. Foundations that meet or exceed those criteria are deemed to have “glass pockets,” a term coined by Russell Leffingwell, chairman of the Carnegie Corporation of New York in the 1950s.
Some 36 foundations are on the roster so far.
The Foundation Center’s review of Kresge’s website notes, among other things, its:
- Descriptions of grantmaking priorities.
- Information about diversity practices, codes of conduct, conflict of interest and whistleblower policies.
- Knowledge center, or library, for reports and “lessons learned.”
- Inclusion of surveys of grant recipients.
In addition to satisfying public interest in how philanthropies’ operate, openness benefits funding organizations, says Camarena. “Preparing to open yourself to public scrutiny of your logic makes you hone it.”
Disclosure also provides ready examples for others in the field to learn from. “Besides serving as a helpful transparency road map, Glass Pockets is, in essence, a knowledge management tool for institutional philanthropy. Our hope is that it provides examples for those who don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” says Camarena. Increased transparency benefits foundation professionals by making information about practices at peer readily available.
The glass-pockets criteria provided a roadmap of content to include in Kresge’s new website, says Rip Rapson, president of the foundation. “It provided direction that helped us easily move from good intention to good execution.”