Key Points

· This article explores the mix of forces explaining variability in good-governance standards and practices by charitable foundations.

· A six-drivers framework for explaining improved foundation accountability and transparency is proposed and discussed in the context of a country study. Those drivers are: regulatory pressures, self-regulation, demands for information from donors and other relevant stakeholders, societal pressure derived from scandals, emulation, and third-party assessment.

· A simple tool for assessing foundation transparency internationally is proposed and then applied to corporate, endowed, and fundraising foundations in the U.S. and Spain.

· Foundations’ financial structure compounds with institutional factors to influence the stage of development of transparency practices, as demands for information from external donors are key.

· Benchmarking reports by a third-party information service, providing incentives for peer emulation, seem to be a key driver for increased transparency in the case of Spanish corporate foundations.

· Implications for foundation practitioners follow, both relative to foundation transparency assessment and advancement in general, and, in particular, to good governance and accountability of corporate and other closely held foundations.

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