Principle: Accountability & Transparency
As entities serving the public, nonprofits have an ethical obligation to conduct their activities in a manner that is accountable and transparent to their constituents. Nonprofits should engage in ongoing efforts to openly convey information to the public about their missions, activities, and decision-making processes. This information should be easily accessible to the public and should create external visibility, public understanding, and trust in the organization.
Accountability, Transparency, and Disclosure
1. A nonprofit must comply with all legal and other required reporting procedures. MT, US
2. A nonprofit has a responsibility to establish, achieve, and regularly measure clearly defined levels of performance in their activities and to share those results with the public.
3. A nonprofit should meet all federal requirements for public disclosure. The Internal Revenue Service requires that a nonprofit provide returns and tax exemption documents (such as Internal Revenue Service form 1023 and the annual return appropriate to the nonprofit’s size as determined by the Internal Revenue Service (Form 990, 990EZ, or 990N (ePostcard)) as follows: US
- Public access must be provided immediately on request by allowing inspection of the documents at the organization’s office(s).
- Copies of the documents must be provided within 30 days upon written request.
- Organizations that make their materials widely available through publication on the Internet do not have to provide copies.
- If the Internal Revenue Service determines that the organization is being subjected to a harassment campaign, then it does not have to provide copies.
- Exempt 501(c)(3) organizations not classified as private foundations are not required to publicly disclose the list of names and addresses of individual contributors and may block out that section of Form 990 and other materials for public viewing.
4. Information regarding fees and services should be readily available to the public.
5. In serving the public trust, a nonprofit should produce and distribute an annual report and/or post information to the organization’s website, including names of board members, management staff, supporters, and donors per the organization’s donor recognition policy, and documents regarding activities and program and financial performance.
6. A nonprofit should have a board-approved written conflict of interest policy for board members, staff, and volunteers that clearly outlines potential conflicts and procedures for disclosure, and provides for review by members of the board of directors not involved in the conflict. Board members, staff, and volunteers should update and sign their individual conflict of interest statement annually. Also in “Governance”
7. A nonprofit should ensure the provision of nondiscriminatory and, as appropriate, confidential service to its constituents, staff, board members, and all other stakeholders. Employees and board members should review and sign off on the organization’s written policy (ies) on this subject. US
Community Access and Input
8. A nonprofit should provide multiple means (telephone, fax, email, and web form, for example) for contacting the organization to request information or provide input.
9. Boards of directors should provide information to the public that describes their decisions and decision-making processes. They should make meeting agendas and descriptions of significant decisions available to those who request them.
10. A nonprofit is encouraged to engage all stakeholders in the development of goals and service delivery methods to carry out its mission.
Financial Management ~ Fundraising
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