Monthly Archives: November 2018

How to support open government on #GivingTuesday

Today is the seventh “Giving Tuesday,” a “global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration” created by Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

As the holiday season begins, you can support the change you want to see in the world by subscribing to newspapers that produce accountability journalism that informs the public about our governments and corporations, or donating to trustworthy, transparent nonprofits that hold government accountable. Since many nonprofits are receiving matching funds today from companies or individuals, donating on #GivingTuesday can have double the impact.

Make sure your donations lead to impact

Before you click to give, however, do your homework! Not all nonprofits are well-run.

Before you click donate, take a moment to evaluate the organization using its website, Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and media reports.

Look at the most recent tax return (Form 990) and for evidence of commitments to transparent, good governance.

Are there 5 independent board members? Are the organization and its leadership transparent and accountable on social media about their decisions regarding activities, expenses, personnel, or errors?

Does a nonprofit disclose its donors, or is it a “dark money” group? Does a high percentage of spending go to programs? Do they show demonstrable impact in the activities described in its charter?

If the nonprofit produces news, how many standardized “trust indicators do they disclosure to provide clarity about their ethical standards, fairness, accuracy, and “show the work” behind a news story?

Nonprofits supporting open government

Following is a list of a worthy organizations, with links to donate.

ProPublica and the Center for Public Integrity report in the public’s interest, informing us of what is being done in our name by governments and holding corporations accountable.

The Center for Responsive Politics adds sunshine to campaign finance, publishing open government data at OpenSecrets.org.

The Project on Government Oversight fights corruption, defends the Freedom of Information Act, and works to improve oversight and government integrity in all three branches of government.

Protect Democracy monitors, investigates, and litigate against any anti-democratic actions taken by the Executive Branch of the United States.

MuckRock makes it easy to make Freedom of Information Act requests, publishes responses, and reports on the documents and data its users bring into the sunshine.

Code for America is reimagining how government systems can and should work better through civic technology and user-centered design.

The Institute for Investigative Editors is the nation’s largest group of watchdogs, improving the quality of investigative reporting. It sustains the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters without Borders protect and defend press freedom, bringing important freedom of information lawsuits and supporting journalists.

The past two years have also shown how important watchdogs and advocates are to defending civil liberties and democracy itself, online and off.

This #GivingTuesday, I hope you’ll also consider supporting the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Brennan Center, the Campaign Legal Center, the Electronic Privacy Center, and Privacy International.

Remember: your donations today will have twice the impact!

Thank you for reading us, and for supporting open government.

 

 

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