In a May column at Forbes, Alex Chafuen discusses John Tyler’s 2013 publication “Transparency in Philanthropy” by way of Renaissance Florence and the work of the “Good men of San Martino” the Buonomini of San Martino, a brotherhood founded in 1441.
There are good arguments for organizations being transparent on a voluntary basis, but creating a new set of legal disclosure requirements could have devastating effects. Through websites such as www.guidestar.org, anyone in the world today can access the tax returns of U.S. foundations that have the official 501 (c)( 3) non-profit status. In countries with weak rule of law, such information could be used to harass and pressure donors. As a consequence, few countries impose such requirements. Where they do, they tend to drive people away from the formal philanthropic sector.