One issue that has emerged in recent years regarding transparency is so-called donor-advised funds — financial vehicles that manage charitable donations made by individuals, families or organizations and under law do not have to disclose the identify of those contributors. The funds have become controversial because they can be a way for people or foundations to finance media without being individually identified.
About 20 percent of foundations surveyed said they assist media projects with donor-advised funds. Of those, half said they disclose the source of those funds. One private foundation said it discloses the source “if targeted to the media project; not if general operating funds.” The source of donor funds is revealed by a community foundation surveyed, “unless the fund is designated anonymous.”
On the nonprofit media organization side, however, the numbers are slightly different and less transparent. Nearly half of the nonprofit news organizations surveyed said they get funding from donor advised funds. Of the organizations that do, 4 in 10 said they disclose both the fund and the source of the contributions. A third said they reveal only the name of the donor advised fund.