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.

Open Access