As I've noted elsewhere, one of this year's RCA resolutions promoted Insitutional Transparency for the Jewish community.
I spoke about the issue in shul two weeks ago, connecting it with the Institutional Transparency of sending the meraglim to scout out Israel (derashah here).
In the wake of that speech, a congregant of mine inquired about a major Orthodox Jewish organization that does not publish its financial records. I passed along the question to one of the organization's leaders, and he replied that they are very fiscally responsible, reviewing and auditing their records, but they do not plan to publish anything.
Note that some organizations are legally exempt from transparency - here are the IRS exemptions for religious organizations:
1. A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a convention or association of churches, or an integrated auxiliary of a church as described in Regulations
section 1.6033-2(h) (such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group).
2. A church-affiliated organization that is exclusively engaged in managing funds or maintaining retirement programs and is described in Rev. Proc. 96-10, 1996-1 C.B. 577.
3. A school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order described in Regulations section 1.6033-2(g)(1)(vii).
4. A mission society sponsored by, or affiliated with, one or more churches or church denominations, if more than half of the society’s activities are conducted in, or directed at, persons in foreign countries.
5. An exclusively religious activity of any religious order described in Rev. Proc. 91-20, 1991-1 C.B. 524.
(For more information, see the IRS pdf here.)
Nonetheless, I believe that financial transparency of tzedakah-receiving organizations is important in halachah, separate from financial responsibility:
Responsibility means we are careful with how we spend tzedakah money.
Transparency means we let our donors know how we spend their tzedakah money.
There are many sources in our masorah recommending transparency; see Midrash Tanchuma Pekudei 4 and Rama Yoreh Deah 257:2 for a couple of examples.
So I began to look at Orthodox Jewish institutions, to see how many file Form 990 with the IRS, publicizing their records. The results are encouraging; most of them do publish their records.
Here are some early findings, courtesy of Guidestar; more to follow, Gd-willing. The organization titles below link to their most recent publicly available filings, which are generally 2007.
THOSE WHO DO PUBLISH FORM 990
Agudath Israel of America
Agudath Israel of America Foundation
AOJS (Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists)
Bnei Akiva of the US and Canada
Chabad Lubavitch National Campus Foundation
Chabad Lubavitch Torah Educational Services
Emunah Women of America
JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminists of America)
Merkos l’Inyonei Chinuch (But why nothing since 1998?)
National Council of Young Israel's Yisrael haTzair supporting National Council efforts in Israel
RIETS (Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary)
RZA (Religious Zionists of America)
Star K Supervision
Yeshiva Chovevei Torah
ZOA (Zionist Organization of America)
THOSE WHO DO NOT PUBLISH FORM 990
National Council of Young Israel
OU - UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS OF AMERICA
(Note that they are both legally exempt under Item 1 above.)
More to follow, when I have a few minutes to follow up on more organizations.