Clear Giving - Transparent Financing for Non-Profits / by Jared

    So I own two watches which I love.  One was given to me by my brother for being the Godfather of his daughter Lyla, and the other was a present from my fiance a few years ago.  As you can see one is a sleek looking Fossil watch and the other is a transparent Wohler.  The thought occurred to me as I looked at these two side by side that many parallels could be drawn from their design.  Both accomplished the same function, but they took different approaches to provide it.  Each of them having many additional up and downsides.  One hid it’s internal workings while the other displayed everything.  One ran on batteries and the other was manually powered.  One looked durable and the other fragile.  
    The parallels I started thinking of were things like Apple and Lenovo,VHS and Beta, and of course Bush and Obama.  They all have similar functions but they approach it in different ways.  So in a recent conversation, I discussed running a charity organization like the Wohler watch.  Why approach financing non-profits with a focus on transparency?  The reason is you want to know where your money is going.  Is your money going to people in need through food, shelter, or direct cash?  Is it being used to build a damn or well for a whole village?  Is 35% of it being eaten up by “administrative costs” or embezzlers?  The fact is there are only a few organizations that can easily tell you these things.  So here’s the partnership you’ve been waiting for.
Take a company like PayPal, able to process just about any contribution method possible, tie in functionality (graphs and easy visual layouts), add a project photo site, and have an organization do all of their book keeping through this online service.  Then make the reports publicly accessable.  What does this do for us?
  1. It makes donating accessible.
  2. You can see exactly what your dollar goes to (in nice pretty graphs).
  3. You can also see the result of those projects (in nice pretty photos).

    Good point:  At first I thought this would easily be a win win, but it was pointed out that maybe some of this money is going to other countries where lets say “grease” is needed to get permits or allowance to build that school or dig that well.  Corruption is a fact of life in certain places, so you would think it would be a detractor for people looking to give money.  That makes sense, but what if the opposite happened?  What if instead of getting people not to donate that it rallied support to not only address the issue they were sent to do, but put pressure on corruption also.  Imagine the representative of the NGO arguing with the local corrupt officer while the conversation is streamed live to the very website accepting donations.  Again this could be a huge drawback, but then again it may not be.

    Overall I think the upfront transparency of a charitable organization’s finances along with a good published success story would only serve to endear more people to their cause and put the public in a better position to invest their philanthropic dollar.

Possible Partnerships:
Charities, Mint.comPaypalFacebook