Telling It Like It Is
16 April 2013 at 11:31 am
Being transparent illustrates that a Not for Profit organisation honours its supporters enough to be open and honest with them, valuing their giving and showing them the impact their donations are having, writes Chief Executive of Opportunity International Australia Robert Dunn. This post was originally published on the CSI Blog.
In the Not for Profit world, there are generally two major stakeholders that organisations seek to serve:
- the beneficiaries of the programs we run, and
- the supporters who enable us to make it all happen.
For Opportunity International Australia our beneficiaries are the families and communities living in developing countries who use small loans and community development programs to transform their lives – starting their own small businesses and earning regular incomes. As a result, these families are able to put food on the table, roofs over heads and children in school – something poverty never afforded them before.
Our supporters are Australians right around the country – people from all walks of life who are moved to act after seeing the injustices families living in poverty face.
We see Opportunity International Australia as the bridge between the two.
In 2012, Opportunity International Australia was honoured to be recognised as the winner of the PwC Transparency Awards in the $5 million to $30 million revenue category, an accolade that recognises Not for Profits for the quality and transparency of their reporting. In 2013, we were again announced as a finalist. These awards are especially meaningful to us, because ultimately, they help us have an even greater impact.
By showing respect to supporters and telling it like it is, an organisation helps build trust. Increased trust often leads to greater support, and greater support likely leads to even bigger impact. And that, after all, is what we’re here for.
Being transparent illustrates that an organisation honours its supporters enough to be open and honest with them, valuing their giving and showing them the impact their donations are having. Or, when challenges arise and things don’t go exactly to plan, transparency means talking about the lessons learned.
I am proud to say that Opportunity International Australia tells the whole story to our supporters – the good, and if need be, the less than rosy. It’s not about piling every little detail about your operations onto supporters, but about recognising the stories that need to be told and being willing to answer tough questions when they come your way.
We know that our donors expect – and deserve – to know where their funds are going and what their funds are doing. Impact assessment is key to this – measuring success not by listing activities but by understanding the difference these activities made in people’s lives.
At Opportunity International Australia, we utilise a Social Performance Management framework for this, a program that enables us to measure people’s progress out of poverty thanks to the various interventions our supporters fund.
Measuring impact in this way enables us to demonstrate the changes that take place in families and communities thanks to our supporters’ giving. It also allows us to refine our programs in order to further increase our impact, improving elements that could be better and replicating aspects that are key to success.
The thing is – a Not for Profit organisation and its supporters have the same goal. For us it’s helping millions of families in developing countries leave poverty behind. So why wouldn’t we be transparent about how we do that?