This module introduces the concept of transparency as it applies to registered charities and non-profit organizations.
The key areas covered are:
- Being Transparent
- Transparency Tools
- A Transparency Checklist
For accountability tools, go to Accountability – Tools
Transparency is the commitment to communicate to stakeholders by publishing or making available critical information about finances, governance and program outcomes.
- Being open to giving stakeholders organizational information that will build trust and strengthen credibility;
- Being able to respond in a timely manner to stakeholders’ question on governance, management issues, finances, donor privacy issues, program outcomes and other issues.
- It is easy to be transparent when a registered charity has good accountability practices.
- Resistance to being transparent tends to stem from lack of confidence that the charity is being accountable as required.
- Your charity’s brochure – printed or e-version
- Your website
- Annual T3010 submitted to CRA this is available by searching the List of Charities on the CRA Charities and Giving website.
- Annual reports published on your website or printed hard copies
- Published financial statements
- Financial report of project submitted to funder
- Information on the fundraising results and how the money is spent
- Policy and procedure on handling requests for information
- Social media – Facebook, blogs, Twitter
- Your charity’s brochure is your business card
- Information to include:
- Program activities
- Names of Board of Directors
- Names of funders and major donors
- Your website is not just your e-brochure. It is a two way communication platform for you and your stakeholders.
- Be sure to build in opportunities to dialogue with your web users.
- Use this as a proactive transparency tools to talk about your practices.
Annual T3010 Return
This is one of the best transparency tool in that charities do not have to re-create the information and communicate to their stakeholders. Most of the information on the Return is available to the public when they search on CRA website. www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html
- This is a tool to report to your stakeholders and to celebrate your accomplishments.
- An Annual Report usually includes:
- Your mission;
- Program activities with emphasis on accomplishments;
- Statistics – number of people served;
- Financial reports
- Names of funders, donors, supporters
Policy on Handling Requests
The policy should specify:
- who is responsible for handling information request; who is the backup;
- the deadline for responding to request;
- how to respond, i.e. email, print or verbal?
- what information to keep in the record?
- what kind of information request needs senior management’s approval
Newsletter and Social Media
Have a plan with
- the purpose for using each medium;
- the kind of information to disseminate;
- a schedule for dissemination;
- the tone of voice
- the way to handle responses as a result of the social media posting
- Are your governance and management practices easily observable and understood?
- Do you keep records that demonstrate your accountability practices?
- Are you able to provide information on these practices?
- Do you have a policy designating who and how requests for information are to be handled?
More information on transparency:
Information in this module is provided for general educational purposes and not as legal or accounting advice. Consult a lawyer or accountant for professional advice. Information is accurate as of 2019. For changes after this date, consult Canada Revenue Agency.