(Janet Camarena is the director of the Foundation Center's San Francisco office and leads the center's Glasspockets effort. A version of this post orginally appeared on the center's Transparency Talk blog.)
Last November, we launched a redesigned and enhanced Glasspockets Web site that I hope readers of this blog will enjoy exploring and/or rediscovering. Our goal for the new site remains the same as when the site originally launched in 2010: to champion greater philanthropic transparency in an increasingly digital world. But the new site is very different and much improved from that first site -— thanks in part to our efforts to create a user experience informed by direct feedback from our stakeholders.
Of course, you might be wondering whether we need a Glasspockets site to champion transparency at all. To which my answer would be a resounding "yes." You might be surprised to learn, for example, that according to the latest data from the Foundation Center, fewer than 10 percent of foundations in the United States have a Web presence. Many of you might assume this is due to the large number of small, unstaffed family foundations that comprise the private foundation universe in the United States. But even when you look at relatively large foundations, those with assets of more than $100 million, you find that nearly a third (30 percent) of them do not have a Web site.
Clearly, many people who engage in philanthropy prefer to do so quietly and without fanfare, which is a challenge for those of us in the field-building business as well as for grantseekers and other grantmakers interested in connecting with like-minded colleagues and funders. We also recognize that, when it comes to transparency, it's often hard for grantmakers to know where to begin. Which is why the redesigned Glasspockets site makes it much easier for grantmakers to find tools they can use and steps they can take to increase their level of transparency.
- 100 percent of respondents believed it was either somewhat or very important that foundations move toward greater transparency and openness;
- Strengthening credibility and public trust were the most popular reasons grantmakers cited for wanting to increase their transparency;
- Nearly 60 percent of respondents reported that Glasspockets had spurred them to increase their level of transparency by sharing more content online;
- More than half of the respondents told us that Glasspockets had helped them position transparency as a priority for their staff or board.
We also received feedback in terms of how to reorganize the content on the site, including requests to:
- Streamline the site so users could more easily find tools to help them improve their transparency;
- Make the definition of and steps to transparency clearer;
- Offer webinars on how to approach transparency and transparency-related issues;
- Offer more case studies of how foundations are using new technology platforms to boost their transparency.
As you explore the new Glasspockets site, you'll see that we took your feedback very much to heart. For example, we've created a framework that helps foundations easily chart their transparency course, with a clearer path to participate in and learn from our "Who Has Glass Pockets?" profiles, a helpful step-by-step approach to transparency, recorded webinar content, and greater use of infographics to make the transparency-related data on the site more accessible and fun.
New features include an interactive knowledge base of "Who Has Glass Pockets?" profiles, an easy-to-share PDF of our popular transparency Heat Map, and an infographic that illustrates how institutional philanthropy is harnessing social media for greater transparency and engagement with stakeholders and constituents. (Have you ever wondered which foundation has the most Twitter followers, is most active on Facebook, and/or has the most subscribers to its YouTube channel? Take a look and see for yourself.)
A forthcoming how-to foundation transparency guide published in collaboration with GrantCraft will further help users navigate foundation transparency practices.
You'll also find important staples from the original site:
- Eye on the Giving Pledge offers an in-depth picture of how more than a hundred of the world's wealthiest people are participating in the Giving Pledge campaign started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.
- Foundation Transparency 2.0 returns in a more streamlined format, making it easier for visitors to explore the online communications tools that foundations use, while providing direct access to foundation blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, Facebook pages, and other digital platforms.
- The Reporting Commitment shows how America's leading foundations are meeting the challenges of our time. Visitors can track grants information in near-real-time through interactive maps and download data in open, machine-readable form.
Foundations and their grantees are working to solve some of the world's most complex problems and challenges -- issues such as climate change, poverty, access to clean water, and crippling diseases. It is out hope that the redesigned Glasspockets site will underscore for foundations that transparency isn't a burden but rather a strategy that serves to accelerate the positive change they are trying to create in the world.
So have a look around and let us know what you think. We'd love to hear your thoughts and impressions.
-- Janet Camarena