Being more transparent is closely related to being better at communicating

By Iryna Shevchenko, Communications Director at CEDOS, Ukraine

CEDOS has always praised the principles of transparency and accountability, even though they have been long overlooked in Ukraine. In fact, these values were one of the driving forces behind CEDOS’s creation.

Fed up with inefficient decisions, a lack of evidence and high-quality research in Ukraine, we formed CEDOS believing that in the age of information only information about processes and rules and the active participation of citizens can bring about change. To understand this point, a short dive into CEDOS’s history is needed.

We rose to our feet only in 2013 but with institutional support we managed to complete a fair many projects shedding light on the previously opaque operations of institutions, bringing attention to violations of the law, fighting for effective government spending, highlighting the problems of different social groups, and exposing the transparency and lack thereof of in universities.

Clearly, as an organization, we cannot demand transparency and accountability from institutions and government without being transparent and accountable ourselves.  Hence, starting from 2014 CEDOS has published an annual public report on its web-site. The report includes a short overview of the organization’s main news, changes and obstacles, a short description of completed projects and accomplishments, and importantly funding for institutional development and for each project from each donor.

However, we overlooked one small issue – almost everything we did was published only in Ukrainian. Drunk with the ecstasy of new activities and opportunities for change, CEDOS forgot about the English speaking audience and was only concerned about the Ukrainian one.

With development and growth, we started paying more attention to the details. In a way, we settled down, became a more mature organization, and are now working on presenting our activities to a broader audience. Hence, we have rebranded, broadened our presence in social media, and launched our own media, watch-dog, open data and open source projects. In this process, we have started to translate our materials into English, and are currently working on a web-site redesign including its English translation. Notably, this year we have published our annual report both in Ukrainian and English. Given that 85% of CEDOS audience is from Ukraine, we had thought this would be a rather small step.

As it turned out, it wasn’t.

We were surprised and very glad to find out that our efforts were noticed and recognized by Transparify this year. For us, Transparify’s acknowledgement of our transparency is a good sign that we are moving in the right direction, and it is nice to know that we on the right side of history.