USF's Museum Blog

Creating a Culture of Transparency

by Briana Commins

Briana Commins shows off’s new mission.


Generation Y is growing up in a world of economic, political, and social uncertainty. As a result, more than prior generations, they are placing greater demands on major public and private institutions for accountability, transparency, and fairness.  Whole Foods notably established an “open door” policy when it comes to their compensation structure.  Every employee wage is available for review to encourage transparency within the workplace.  I applaud their efforts and find their availability of information refreshing.

So what does this focus on transparency mean for non-profit institutions?  It means that it is more important than ever to provide donors with information about your institution’s expenditures, programming, and how you are spending their money.  Nearly 60 percent of Generation Y and half of Generation X agree that the ability to directly see the impact of their donation would have a significant bearing on their decision to give.  Along similar lines, younger donors are more likely to say the ability to restrict their gift to a specific project might matter to them.  This has important messaging-and possibility wider-implications.  To the extent that courting younger donors is a priority, charities need to take greater pains to show where their money goes and how it makes a difference.  Younger donors are more likely to ask pointed questions about return on investment and reject superficial answers.  On the other hand, marketing experts who specialize in communicating with Boomers and older audiences argue these generations are more responsive to emotional appeal, and more concerned about the charity’s overall reputation. 

10511141_10152620093423489_6806959105111165450_nDuring my internship at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco this summer, I have worked diligently to add to the financial documents provided on our websites as well as update the information about our institution on Charity Navigator and Great Nonprofits.  It is my goal to have all of the information updated by the end of the summer to ensure that the public can easily evaluate our impact on the community and review current financials. Additionally, I am the project manager for the 2013 Annual Report and have been focusing on conveying our accomplishments and how our activities helped us achieve our mission.  We will also include data from the 2013 audited financials to demonstrate our commitment to accountability and transparency. Remember to check out the Aquarium’s website on August 1st to see our new digital report!  –– Briana Commins

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