Transparency is Not Enough

I just got a call from someone who, while very supportive of FORGE, made the point that transparency is not enough. What is critical is a well run social enterprise. This is a point that I haven’t made clearly enough: I see transparency as a necessary prerequisite for the nonprofit field to develop in a way that allows anyone to know who is running their social enterprise well.

Transparency is NOT enough, but in a world with limited transparency, we need to celebrate transparency on its own. To me, celebrating and rewarding FORGE’s transparency is what this is all about. It may be that FORGE is not a well run organization and it does not deserve our support. If you’ve been reading for the last week I think it is clear that emotionally I would like very much to see FORGE succeed and thrive. But what really excites me is that FORGE’s decision to be transparent means that at the end of this process it is very likely that we can all have conviction around whether or not FORGE deserves our funding.

Transparency is only a tool to better understand which nonprofit are well run. But it is a necassary tool and not the current norm. So while it is not the endgame, it should be celebrate as a worthy goal unto itself until it becomes the norm.

One Comment

  1. Young Staffer says:

    Well said. This isn’t all that different from how we think about transparency in both democratic institutions and in market systems. Neither system works to it’s “best” ability (maximizing social welfare) unless people have the information needed to make informed decisions.