Nonprofit accountability

Strengthen boards, activate technical group.     

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Many people sit on nonprofit boards but do not know much of the workings of the business.

Board members should be required to somehow be involved with the all of the staff, not just the executive directors who tell them what they want to hear.

Many board members sit on the board because they are liked by the directors or because they donate money, not because they do a good job.

Sharon Koss, business school manager, Goodwill Industries, Toledo, Ohio

One way to make nonprofits more accountable would be to activate a technical committee at OASIS that pick ups the work that was begun by the Open Philanthropy eXchange project.

OPX provides a standard for formatting and exchanging digital information about donors, gifts, volunteers, members and events.

By using a common data format, nonprofit organizations and service providers can streamline communications between web sites and back-office databases.

Software applications with incompatible formats can use OPX to transfer information using a common language.

In addition, other current data standards such as the Urban League’s universal chart of account, Independent Sector’s e990 work and a schema based on Grantsmart’s reporting could all be coordinated in a way to provide web-based, real-time budget reporting such as xbrl or some other “x” flavor, as well as Excel and OpenOffice spreadsheet formats and pdf format, as well as html.

Since state governments could benefit from the same disclosure, they could have aliases with the OASIS working group.

Ed Dodds, Nashville, Tenn.

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