This monograph is an attempt to bring a new lens to conversations on transparency in the philanthropic world. The monograph asserts that itis appropriate for the government to require certain degrees and types of transparency to achieve specified legitimate objectives. It also advocates that foundations should do more to voluntarily pursue openness in ways that exceed current legal mandates and that are consistent with and of benefit to each foundation’s particular mission and operations.This monograph also critically scrutinizes calls for increased transparency more generally, including the common (and sometimes intentional) lack of clarity about whether the pleas are merely encouraging voluntary private decision-making or are demanding government-imposed standards. The monograph challenges those latter calls for government intervention, including those that seem to presume the legitimacy of transparency as a fundamental principle in itself instead of a dependent value in service to other objectives that must themselves be legitimate.
Along the same lines, the monograph dissects the most frequently asserted objectives for government mandates and reveals deeply rooted, potentially insurmountable problems with the practical pursuit of those objectives. As such, this monograph is an effort to encourage advocates of greater transparency in philanthropy to be more disciplined and clear in their assertions.