Last week, I received this message from GuideStar – “Congratulations. You’ve earned a Gold Seal of Transparency!” Big deal I thought. I had recently gone to our profile to update and add information about our mission, programs, outcomes, and financials. It did not take a long time to complete and yet doing so provided so much value. Earning a gold seal of transparency from Guidestar got me thinking about how much transparency matters to our donors and parents.
An increasing number of donors look at information about non-profits to make giving decisions and I applaud their research. Non-profits who spend donations wisely, are prudent about expenditures, and transparent about where each dollar of their budget goes are ones I want to support. And I think our donors do as well. A donation is an investment in mission and outcomes that matter to the donor.
Transparency is also important when it comes to school choice. One of the ways we support this principle is by encouraging families who are considering a non-public school for their children to visit those schools. To not only read the brochures, but also to see what is going on. One parent recently shared that after driving by the school they wanted their child to attend, they applied. It was seeing children interacting consistently and positively with adults who were supervising on the playground, waiting for afternoon transportation and pick up, and in the mornings as children waited for the doors of the school to open that allowed the parent to see the culture of support and interaction.
We now choose new families from our waiting list in the fall of the year BEFORE their child will attend school as a CSFB scholar. This allows families time to go through the process of choosing a school by attending open houses, reviewing data, meeting with school leaders and teachers and often having their child shadow with a current student. Certainly not just a “paper” review of the school but an interactive and transparent one.
We’re proud to have our Gold Seal from GuideStar so our donors can review us thoroughly before they invest in our work. We’re also committed to supporting our parents in a thorough school choice search and encouraging our schools to be transparent about what they are (and are not) so parents can find the best educational fit for their child.
– Beth Harbinson, Executive Director