Think tank financial transparency is becoming the norm across the globe: while in 2013 when Transparify carried out its baseline, 25 organizations were transparent, 92 are in 2018. This represents clear progress towards transparency, as highlighted in Transparify’s 2018 report released today.
Yet, a majority of think tanks around the globe and even a majority of the think tanks we have ever rated (over 200) are not transparent. Transparify will continue to advocate for more transparency, to further increase levels of disclosure. What can others do?
First, if you’re a journalist, ask the experts you interview where their funding comes from. If you can get an expert from a transparent institution, why quote one from an opaque, potentially biased think tank? You can use the list in this year’s report as a directory for finding think tanks that put an emphasis on integrity.
Second, for think tanks that are not transparent, this is a good time to join the movement for more transparency. Nearly 100 institutions in 24 countries are transparent now. This includes some of the largest think tanks in the world like RAND Corporation and small teams like Georgia’s Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information. Why not joint them, now?
Third, for donors, why not make think tanks provide a link to where they disclose who funds them? A simple question on applications, whether or not it affects funding decisions, can help encourage more think tanks to consider becoming financially transparent.
These three simple changes are likely to improve and sustain the growth in think tank transparency we’ve seen over the last five years.
To find out more about these changes, read How Has Think Tank Transparency Evolved in 2018.