I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a recently elected politician who has requested and received $200,000 from several large nonprofit foundations to fund transition costs as he prepares to take office. I have to admit I was a bit surprised to hear this request is being honored. This got me thinking about transparency, appropriateness, and communication.

While I am sure this is all legal, I do wonder about the intention of donors when they give to a foundation or directly to a nonprofit. Would they expect their money to be used on causes like this? I wonder what they are thinking…

This request, and the subsequent agreement to fund, does provide nonprofit leaders with a great opportunity to step back  think about their agency’s  transparency and appropriateness of payments-and the agency’s books in general, for that matter.

I one had an employer who had a very simple and direct rule-of-thumb for issues of ethics, appearance, and appropriateness-“Before you do anything, think about how you would feel if it showed up as the front page headlines of the Sunday Chicago Tribune newspaper.” That warning has stuck with me  for 40 years and it still serves as a great guideline.

Is there anything at your agency that you need to re-think or perhaps change?