Transparify provides the first-ever global rating of the financial transparency of major think tanks. In early 2014, we visited the websites of over 150 think tanks in over 40 countries to find out whether they provide information on who funds them and how much they receive from each source. The good news is that there already is momentumtowards greater transparency. In early 2015, we followed up with a second round of ratings of the same think tanks to see whether their transparency has improved. This momentum has held for our 2016 ratings — think tanks around the world are becoming more and more transparent.
Why this project is important
Think tanks are playing an increasingly important role in public debates and the formulation of public policy worldwide. Think tanks can play a positive role by generating new ideas and producing independent research to inform politicians, media and the public as they wrestle with complex issues and try to decide on how to tackle them. However, there are concerns that some policy advice provided by some think tanks may be driven more by the vested interests of their funders than by truly independent research and analysis.
Transparency builds credibility
Every think tank needs money to operate, and there is nothing wrong with accepting funding from a variety of public and private sources. The problem is hidden funding, no matter from which source.
Today, some think tanks still fail to disclose who funds them. This can create the appearance or actuality of hidden agendas, and undermines the credibility of the think tank community as a whole. Our project assesses how transparent think tanks currently are about their sources of funding, and challenge them to bolster the credibility of their policy advice by publicly disclosing who funds their research.
Think Tank Funding – An Overview of Current Debates