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Beth- This isn't an answer, but another observation. Authenticity is relative and subjective, not absolute as it involves judgement. What I deem authentic may seem inauthentic to someone with a different point of view. Transparency can help authenticity since part of authenticity is honesty. I think lack of transparency can affect your authenticity negatively when transparency is expected (for example, particpants in most online forums expect transparency about each other's identities). However, I think that we judge authenticity without evaluating authenticity all the time. They are interrelated concepts, but both can exist independently of the other.

For nonprofits - we're at a time when donor scrutiny is very high. I think, then, that it behooves our sector to focus on transparency. We need to open our robes and be prepared for criticism. At the same time, authenticity isnot driven solely by transparency. We need to tell the stories of our work, and allow our stakeholders to tell their stories about out our work in ways that will resonate with the values of our stakeholders. That's the art of authenticity.

Amy Sample Ward

I completely agree with Holly. The move for nonprofits is to be as transparent as possible and in so doing, the stories that come out, the language and conversations that develop, and the way others champion the causes for the nonprofit is the continually evolving authenticity. The more there is to see/hear/read/understand, the more complete and authentic the picture of the organization becomes. I also think that by opening up, being transparent, that the inclusion of negative public feedback or stories etc. works to make the most complete and authentic view of the organization because everything is in the open, including the response to negative things from the public (or from within). The transparency works to "humanize" (for lack of better word) the organization and prove the authenticity.

Great post, Beth! Thanks for rounding up so many of the points floating around about this.

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