GEO

TI Georgia, EPRC and Jumpstart Georgia among think tanks with the most transparent funding, new study shows

18 February, 2015

More than two thirds of think tanks worldwide do not disclose where their money comes from, a study shows. Out of 169 policy research institutions in 47 countries assessed by the Transparify initiative, only 49 provide comprehensive financial information about their funding. More than a hundred institutions disclose little or no information on who funds them.

“Think tanks that accept funding behind closed doors undermine the reputation of the sector as a whole,” warned Dr Hans Gutbrod, the executive director of Transparify, a global initiative based in Tbilisi that advocates for greater research integrity. “Luckily, more and more think tanks are realizing that financial transparency is a great way of bolstering the credibility of their research and policy advice. This year’s results from the United States are especially encouraging in this regard.”

“We also see good results from Georgia”, Gutbrod added. Three organisations in Georgia, Transparency International Georgia, Economic Policy Research Center and Jumpstart Georgia, are among the most transparent organizations in the world. These three institutions set an example to other think tanks in the region, and beyond.”

Transparify rates the extent to which think tanks publicly disclose through their websites where their funding comes from. Transparify visited think tanks’ websites and looked at the funding and donor information disclosed online, including in online annual reports.

Institutions rated with the maximum of five stars are highly transparent about who funds them. Think tanks with four stars are broadly transparent; typically, they do not disclose exactly who gave how much, but instead group their donors into several funding brackets. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the funding of think tanks with zero stars or one star is highly opaque.

“Compared to last year’s results, this is a vast improvement. The gains in the U.S. are the most dramatic, but the trend towards greater transparency is global,” explained Gutbrod, whose team surveyed the websites of 169 think tanks in 47 countries in search of financial information.

“Think tanks can play a positive role producing independent, in-depth policy research to inform politicians, media and the public,” he concluded. “As key players in democratic politics, they have a responsibility to be transparent about their operations. Encouragingly, our survey shows that think tanks themselves are increasingly sharing this view.”

Transparify is based in Georgia, and uses Tbilisi as its base to communicate with think tanks from around the world. The ratings of 169 institutions, too, have been undertaken by a primarily Georgian team. Transparify’s effort has received wide international coverage, check Transparify’s Twitter feed and website for more details.