Last week’s poll asking readers “how many orchestras will take advantage of having the direct link to their respective financial reports page at GuideStar.org and post it on their webpage by the end of November” and if “institutional transparency in the form of posting financial and annual reports matter” generated just over 100 responses. The results, at the time this article was written, can be summed up by saying that stakeholders have high standards but low expectations…
Unquestionably, this is one instance where I am disappointed that my outlook is shared by a majority of others throughout the business. Clearly, institutional transparency is an important issue for stakeholders and organizations taking the time to enhance their transparency by making the most basic of financial reports available at their website would benefit from such measures.
Most reasons behind why an organization doesn’t make financial reports available fall into two basic categories: apathy and philosophical opposition.
Concerning the former, stimulating positive change can be as simple as offering much needed tools – like an orchestra IRS 990 resource list – to assist overcoming very real shortages in personnel and time. As for the latter, introducing systemic change is a much greater challenge and past practice throughout the field indicates there may be a great deal of resistance to these efforts.
There are a host of reasons why this is the case (some legitimate but just as many if not more aren’t) but ultimately, there’s nothing standing in the way of clearing out unhealthy financial practices of the past. In order to accomplish this task, it takes the combined efforts and dedication of a board executive committee, CEO, and CFO to implement necessary changes and rally the remaining stakeholders behind the institutional vision.
In order to promote institutional transparency on a continuing basis, the reference list from 10/28/2009 has been moved to a static page in Adaptistration’s resource material. This free resource currently includes all of the orchestras from the Orchestra Website Review but over time, it will be expanded to include as many organizations as possible.