In John Tyler’s book “Transparency in Philanthropy,” the author discusses the idea of allowing the government to demand transparency among charities and other philanthropic organizations, and whether or not it would be beneficial to the charities and the people who support them. Tyler draws the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that “transparency is complicated” in his book, because even though transparency in charities can help make business processes simpler by removing secrets, it can also prove to be a challenge, especially if it is mandated and not voluntary.

Many organizations choose to be transparent in their work, and some philanthropic groups will readily supply all the numbers about how much they donated, received, paid in salaries, etc. This is a good thing because it 1) ensures that there are no secrets being kept behind closed doors about the donations, and 2) encourages trust. If people know where their money is going when they donate to a charity, they may be more likely to give and give more often. Tyler also mentions that foundations with stakeholders are legally obligated to share their information with them, but there is a difference between legal and social transparency.

There is a down-side to demanding transparency in the philanthropic sector, though. If the government demands a charity to be transparent, that means people can easily research to find these companies’ tax returns. While this may not seem like much of a problem, “in countries with weak rule of law, such information could be used to harass and pressure donors.” Then, because of these pressures, people are frightened away and donations dramatically decrease, which hurts everyone.

Philanthropic foundations are necessary to organize donations and charity around the world, and sometimes transparency is a good thing, especially when it’s voluntary. But at other times, it can lead to results that don’t help anyone.

Katie Brockman

Source: Forbes
Photo: FDA

President of Kenya Promises Change
The new president of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, was sworn in earlier this week, marking the beginning of the fourth presidency for the country. Although the election process was mired in tensions and left the country severely divided, Kenyatta made promises in his acceptance speech regarding the future of the country.

Kenyatta praised the people of Kenya for dealing with rough times following the introduction of a brand new constitution just three years ago and asserted that he will lead the country to better economic, social, and political times, promising to set aside differences even with those who did not vote for him.

He promised that all mothers would receive free maternal health care within 100 days of taking office, and also promised free laptop computers to every school-aged child starting next year.

Kenyatta went on praise the citizens of Kenya and said that he recognized their continued support during tumultuous and unstable times. He will be the first president under the new constitution that aims at reducing the president’s powers under the law.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The Guardian

US Troops Removal Affects Aid in AfghanistanLast week President Obama announced that he plans on bringing home 34,000 troops from Afghanistan within the next year. The presence of American troops in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has served more than just a military purpose, but also a humanitarian one as well.

Despite the corruption and backlash from the Taliban, U.S. soldiers have been successful in creating a much safer community for the Afghan population through constant patrolling on both lands and in the air. They have also provided the necessary institutions to provide health care and educate young girls. However, with the removal of most of the remaining troops, certain experts and members of Congress are worried that the $15 billion aid program for development and aid in Afghanistan will have been a wasted effort.

Because of the United States’ current economic standing, continuing to fund civilian-focused programs in Afghanistan is seen as creating a dependency on American assistance. In order to convince Congress and the President to at least gradually remove U.S. troops and continue to provide a small amount of monetary aid, Anthony H. Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests that those in support of aid must quickly plan out their selling points and present a case to Congress that shows social and economic improvements in Afghanistan.

The argument against continuing aid is the belief that after all these years, the Karzai government still remains unaccountable and unable to keep corruption out of its administration. Those in support of aid believe that the Afghan people need more time to adapt if they are to begin independently managing their own affairs.

Over concern for the safety of Afghan women and girls from the Taliban, many senators, both Republican and Democrat, have come together to fully support the continuance of civilian assistance.

The main priority for all is to make sure that the billions of dollars that have been put into rebuilding Afghanistan and the American lives lost in doing so will not go wasted. All sides of the issue also understand that aid can no longer be given at the rate it has been for the past decade.

Reaching a middle ground that can guarantee the safety of Afghans but at the same time encourage them to actively build upwards from the foundations already set seems plausible and will hopefully remain an important concern while troops are being removed.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: The New York Times