#AccountabilityMonday Advocates Transparency, Best Practices

As charities gear up for the seventh annual #GivingTuesday tomorrow, a smaller group of tax and law professors and others are tweeting about #AccountabilityMonday. The hashtag is organized around nonprofit transparency, sharing success stories or best practices about accountability, or just simple ways for donors to understand how nonprofits operate.

There also are suggestions about how to read a charity’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 and what to look for in the financials. Others raised questions about corporate matching donations and how charities are chosen to participate.

“Watch out for high donation processing fees. Text donations sound appealing but are loaded with fees and slow to reach charities. Look for places that waive fees or provide matches,” said Brian Mittendorf, chair of the accounting and MIS Department at The Ohio State University, via his Twitter feed at @CountingCharity.

“Thinking about joining the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) craze? Ask the sponsoring organization what they bring to the table. If it’s just tax or investment advice, look elsewhere. DAF sponsors are charities and should act like it.”

Jamie Levine Daniel, an assistant professor in nonprofit management at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indiana (IUPUI), shared a number of reports around nonprofit accountability using the hashtag #AccountabilityMonday. One was a blog post by Lucy Bernholz titled “Media Manipulation and Giving Tuesday,” about misinformation and the “current ecosystem of distrust, and civil society.” Another was a Washington Post story about complaints and other issues at nursing home chain HCR ManorCare after being bought by private equity firm The Carlyle Group, whose founder David Rubinstein has been lauded for his philanthropy.

Josh Nathan-Kazis, a journalist for The Forward, a magazine focused on Jewish culture, news and philanthropy, included a thread on some places donors can find 990s and also launched a crowdsourced effort to examine Jewish charities’ tax forms.