It Doesn't Always Feel Like It – But Charities In Ireland Really ARE Becoming More Transparent
In the wake of the Console scandal, it's easy to lose all hope. But that wouldn't help anyone.
Transparency is more than a buzzword. It's a principle – and one that the vast majority of charities both believe in and adhere to.
Sadly, though, the reputation of the sector as a whole has come under scrutiny in the past few years, especially in the last week.
The knock-on effect of scandals like Console is that generalisations are often made about all charities on the basis of such examples – examples that involve attempts to deceive authorities and blatant abuse of charitable funds for private purposes.
And what happens next?
People won’t – and shouldn’t – donate their hard-earned cash unless there is trust that the money is being suitably spent.
It was clearly seen in the reaction to the scandal on Twitter, as documented on these pages the following day. And it's damaging. Very damaging.
Is the Irish charity "industry" just one big gravy train? #Console— Darren Geraghty (@GeraghtyDarren) June 28, 2016
There is hope though. Many organisations are actively trying to build trust back into the sector, such as the newly-established Altruism Ireland, which wants to establish a transparent system for charity-giving, ensuring more money ends up in the hands of those who need it most.
Each charity on board is given a transparency score out of 10, and by allowing people access to the type of information that facilitates trust – such as a charity’s financial reports in an easy-to-read manner, as well as services they provide and the results that they have achieved – we believe more mindful giving will be the consequence.
But there's more to it than that...
Within the charity sector, new procedures are being put in place to ensure that all Boards of governors, directors and trustees demonstrate the highest governance standards in their work.
Meanwhile, organisations such as Benefacts have been recently set-up to serve as a public database of the 18,539 civil society organisations in Ireland which provides extensive information about the entire sector.
Their focus is on avoiding any potential conflicts of interest and to always act solely in the interest of advancing their particular charitable purpose.
With all the negativity floating about, it’s easy to lose hope.
It’s easy to be cynical. It’s easy to generalise.
It’s a lot harder to creatively seek solutions and work towards creating better institutions and organisations that benefit the wider Irish society – but that's what's got to be done.
And that's precisely what's happening.
John Clarke is Relationships Manager with Altruism Ireland