Issue 4, 2016. August-September



A new ranking applauds Georgian NGOs growing level of financial transparency

The 2016 Transparify report found that Georgia has become a leader in policy research transparency. Transparify assesses how transparently think tanks disclose their funding sources on their websites. The report uses a five-star ranking system to grade the level of think tanks' transparency.

Transparify, which was founded in Tbilisi, ranks the transparency of think tanks' funding because opaque funding can undermine public trust in their work, according to the organization's website. The report is an analysis of how think tanks disclose their funding and donor information online. A five-star rank means the think tank is highly transparent; four stars mean it provides information on donors but not precise amounts. Think tanks with one or zero stars do not disclose the names of "some or all of their donors."

The report, which assessed the level of transparency of 150 think tanks in over 40 countries, found that prominent Georgian think tanks CIPDD and ISET Policy institute are highly transparent, and that Georgia is now a "world champion in policy research transparency."

"These highly transparent institutions set a positive example for the sector as a whole, both nationally and internationally," commented Dr. Hans Gutbrod, the Executive Director of Transparify, in a press release about the 2016 report.

"Once one think tank discloses exactly how much money it receives from each donor, and for what purposes, it raises the bar for all other players in the country. If one institution can do it, all institutions can do it."

In fact, 70 percent of the Georgian institutions included in the study (seven out of ten) "are highly transparent."

The report also noted that "numerous models of transparency now exist" throughout the region.

"Think tanks aspiring to excellence in Bosnia, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Ukraine can all turn to local role models for inspiration and guidance. Only Serbia still lacks a local champion for full disclosure," the report read. Transparify also found that transparency has increased in think tanks throughout Europe.

"Think tanks in Europe have continued their movement towards greater transparency. At the time of our first baseline assessment, only five institutions were transparent, and ten were highly opaque. Today, 15 think tanks are transparent, including 13 that are highly transparent. Only seven highly opaque institutions remain," the report stated.

Dr. Gutbrod noted that Transparify researchers "have documented highly transparent think tanks in 23 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe."

"Top transparency performers can be found in places as far apart as Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and the Ukraine," he said.

"Clearly, transparency is a feasible option in a huge variety of political, economic and social contexts. Excellence knows no borders, and that includes excellence in financial disclosure."