We must become better at demanding transparency

A new investigation report from the organization Charity Rating shows that the non-profit sector has its most transparent year ever. More and more organizations are choosing to be open about where their collected money goes. But there are still several of the large organizations that do not meet the requirements for transparency, writes Gerda Larsson on Charity Rating.

In recent years, donations have increased sharply and 2015 is forecast to be a new record year. In Sweden, the public donates an average of SEK 6 billion to non-profit organizations. That's about as much as we buy books for each year. But an increased commitment from donors also places higher demands on the organizations to responsibly manage the grants and be able to openly report their work. So what really happens to all the money raised?

For 10 years, Charity Rating has examined the non-profit sector to get answers to the question of where the money goes, and for each year the number of approved organizations has grown. Our goal is a more open and transparent non-profit sector. It should be easy and fun to develop sustainable and long-term non-profit commitments. This year we celebrate not only 10 years but also that the Swedish non-profit sector has its most transparent year ever. As many as 77 organizations are on our Green List of transparent organizations. This is almost a tripling compared to the previous year.

According to a survey conducted by the Voluntary Organizations 'Fundraising Council, it is the trust in the individual organization that may make the decision for the donors' choice. Organizations' ability to show how they use collected funds comes second. It is therefore gratifying that the increase in funds raised has gone hand in hand with increased transparency in the sector.

But despite this year's positive development, we still see that more organizations need to become more transparent and as a donor you can help to influence. Of the 15 organizations that the public donates the most to, a third still do not meet the requirements for transparency. We who donate need to become better at demanding openness in the non-profit sector.

Here are five steps you can take to begin the process of preparation for mediation.

Give with both heart and brain
The first step is to choose an issue you think is important. Then consider whether you want to donate to a larger or smaller organization, if you want to donate your time and volunteer or if you want to donate money, either every month or make a one-time donation.

Do your own research
Now you are ready to find an organization that suits you! Start by doing your own research and compare. Use the information that you can find on the organizations' websites and if there is something you are missing, call and ask questions. A good organization knows what they are working for today and tomorrow - and likes to be told about it.

Do not stare blindly at numbers

Swedish Fundraising Control is a foundation that issues so-called 90-accounts. This means that a maximum of 25% of the organization's expenses go to administrative costs, but that unfortunately says little about the organization's work. For small organizations, that figure is often larger, but that does not mean that the organization is necessarily worse.

Avoid intermediaries
A tip for maximizing the number of kronor that goes to the purpose is to avoid intermediaries. There are several companies that profit from your donations through fundraising sites and the like. To maximize your contribution, contact the organization directly!

To give in the event of a disaster
It is often expensive and takes time to set up a new business and in the event of a disaster, it is therefore good if the organization is already in place. Choose a well-known organization that you know is already engaged.

Charity Rating now hopes that more and more people want to participate and contribute to an even more open and transparent non-profit sector. Both fundraising organizations and the donors themselves.

Gerda Larsson

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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