Transparency - definitions for purposes of this web-site and this Foundation:
We believe that transparency is critical to ensure that any observer (no matter how important or even unimportant to the individual specific charitable organization itself) can easily understand just what the organization in question is doing and how it is doing it. The mere fact that so many organizations in this town fight this premise is more than sufficient reason to state that the requirement is, in fact, very necessary. Too many organizations have hidden the facts that they are paying more and more of their participants to do what was previously unpaid volunteer work. As a result of this, their mission is being shortchanged. We don't offer any opinion as to whether or not individuals should or should not be paid, but we fervently believe that the facts should not be hidden. The hiding always leads one to wonder, just exactly WHAT is being hidden and WHY is it hidden. Interestingly enough, we do not ask for financial statements that are any more difficult to create or present than is asked by the USA IRS for any organization that says it is USA tax deductible. See our example of an acceptable format of disclosure on our financials-example web-page and also look at Form 990ez which even a very small SMA organization must file with IRS.
Among the many things that should be disclosed are the:
The above is just transparency of annual financial information. In addition, the "open and transparent" organization should be encouraged to show, by verifiable narrative means, just what it is doing and how it is operating. After all, with so little overlap of mission in this town, why would anything have to be hidden? Competition is not existent except in the fund-raising aspects and the acquisition of volunteer help and even in these two competitive aspects, I would think that the persons who do volunteer and do contribute funds would be more likely to do that for the more transparent and openly honest organization.
Look around you in the world today. A good case could be made for the theory that the lack of transparency is the root cause, or a secondary cause, or even a minor but definite part of the causes for most problems in government, in politics, in profit-making organizations, and certainly not overlooking NGO's inside and outside of Mexico.
And, as a supplementary definition, the following comes from the Founder's estate papers:
The following describes a failed attempt by this Foundation at a contest in 2005 intended to promote transparency. It is left below (online) "for the record" and nothing more. Interestingly enough, our attempts over many years to promote transparency finally bore fruit by 2008 and starting in 2008, 100% of our grantees were well along the path to partial if not complete transparency.
These awards were offered (and distributed) in 2005. They are no longer offered. The Lions Club (winner of a us$1,200 award in 2005) had its entry prepared by an individual that left town shortly afterwards. As a result of a lack of continuity, The Lions Club was not able to have someone else in their organization prepare (see below for information regarding "improvements from year to year") better financial statements in 2006, which is and was the whole reason behind our offering such awards. However, we are happy to state that the Lions Club finally, in 2009, overcame this problem and (hopefully) will remain an on-going grantee.
These awards will be made to ANY non-profit charitable organization in San Miguel (other than to our current ongoing grantees, however, see note 1 below).
The purpose of the transparency awards is to encourage greater transparency in the presentation of financial and other information from organizations that solicit funds from the public. We will not only grant three monetary awards, but we will also publicly endorse organizations' transparency methods and their reporting to the public. If that aids the organization in their fund-raising efforts, so much the better. In addition, all award winning organizations will be shown on this web-site (see table at bottom of this page).
Rules and criteria:
As background information that will be useful to any organizations entering the competition, we suggest you click on the following links:
note 1 - the only criteria for eligibility that an organization must meet is listed on our web-page Eligibility under the heading "Each new grantee organization MUST:" Due to legal considerations described more fully on that page, we must insist that the first 4 criteria be met; no other criteria on that page must necessarily be met.
Notes applicable to the above Table of Awards:
(a)- The Lions Club, after years of submitting inadequate statements, finally did prepare good statements in 2005. On the other hand, C.A.S.A submitted partial statements that lacked even the barest of disclosures, and was awarded 2nd prize ONLY because there was no third entry.
(b) to the best of our knowledge, these are the only three organizations that NOW (2009) provide financial statements even though USA tax laws require such statements from all of the organizations named in the above table.