At the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia (LIAD) Center, we value relevance, reliability, convenience, and above all, transparency. Unlike publicly traded companies, nonprofit organizations are not required to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which makes it essential for legitimate nonprofits to distinguish themselves by participating in programs like the GuideStar Seals of Transparency.
At the LIAD Center, we're proud to participate in this widely recognized initiative and to have earned the GuideStar Silver Seal of Transparency. Let's take a closer look at the GuideStar Silver Seal of Transparency as well as what it means.
What Are GuideStar Seals of Transparency?
In the most simple sense, the GuideStar Seals of Transparency is a streamlined way for nonprofit organizations to demonstrate their commitment to transparency while conveying real stories. Our highly-coveted Silver Seal of Transparency acknowledges that we have made key information public under our GuideStar profile.
By participating in the GuideStar program, it demonstrates our commitment to providing up-to-date information, which allows potential funders and donors to make an educated decision. It's important to understand that the Seal of Transparency isn't an endorsement or rating by GuideStar.
Just as well, GuideStar doesn't evaluate nonprofits and isn't a watchdog. The overarching goal at GuideStar is to deliver unbiased information to help funders, donors, and key stakeholders make the most educated decision.
What Is the GuideStar Silver Seal of Transparency?
Anytime a nonprofit organization earns a Seal of Transparency, they have provided context for the IRS information already provided in the GuideStar profile. This additional context offers funders and possible donors superior insight into the work being done by the nonprofit. As the second available seal, the GuideStar Silver Seal of Transparency confirms we have provided:
What Is Transparency for Nonprofits?
Transparency in the nonprofit space can be explained as the widespread availability of reliable, relevant information about the financial position, performance, and governance of the organization. For nonprofits, transparency is a critical trust-building tool.
The more transparent the organization, the more trustworthy it will be viewed by regulators, donors, and the public. It's vital for nonprofit organizations to explicitly state their mission and communicate the outcomes of their initiatives to the world.
How Can Nonprofit Transparency Be Increased
The majority of nonprofits increase transparency by making their IRS Form 990 available on their website. In addition to making these forms readily available, other ways nonprofits can increase transparency include:
- Regularly update the website with the latest and most current program info
- Post the names, bios, and titles of key staff members and board members. It's also a good practice to highlight each individual's contributions and skills.
- Offer an annual report on the website that includes the services offered during the year and the achievements.
- Post a copy of the IRS letter of determination on the website.
- Post a copy of any financial statements that have been audited.
Why Is Transparency Important for Nonprofits?
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was a sweeping piece of federal legislation that established financial regulations and auditing standards for publicly traded companies. Lawmakers established this legislation to protect employees, shareholders, and the public from accounting errors and fraudulent financial purchases.
However, nonprofit organizations are not required to comply with this act. While voluntary for nonprofits, transparency is essential and can open the door to a host of benefits. Research published in the Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance demonstrates the importance of transparency to nonprofit organizations by suggesting that:
Where Can Financial Information Be Accessed for the LIAD Center?
At the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, we know that financial transparency is paramount to everything we do. And we offer the highest level of financial transparency to help preserve the instrumental trust each donor places in their contributions. For example, we make our financial statements available at any time.
At the same time, by engaging in conduct that is transparent and accountable, we earn the trust of our volunteers, donors and staff, which creates a positive workplace and community culture that empowers us to go above and beyond for those we serve.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about what we do, feel free to reach out to the team at the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center today.