IMPROVING CSO IMPACT FOR PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Civil society organisations (CSOs) are integral to democracy and sustainable development. But we have to walk the talk in regard to transparency, accountability and responsiveness to people’s needs.
Only then, will we deliver optimal impact for people’s lives and the environment.
It is the Charter’s ambition to support CSOs in achieving better impact for people and the environment as we build:
1. strong CSO accountability practices
2. public trust in CSOs
3. global CSO collaboration on accountability
Who we are
The INGO Accountability Charter is a platform for international CSOs that want to strengthen their credibility, quality of work and responsiveness to stakeholders. It is an independent code signed by most leading international CSOs, including development,
environment, human rights and anti-corruption organisations. An external review
mechanism safeguards the Charter’s reputation. We work in close collaboration with a
number of national CSO accountability networks from across the globe to establish a Global Standard for CSO Accountability.
Responding to a changing world
Climate change, resource scarcity and rapid demographic developments have led to increasing demands on CSOs to help the poor and protect the environment. At the same time increased literacy and digitisation has empowered citizens to demand a greater say in creating the change they want to see. This is a great opportunity! However, more governments now harass CSOs and legislate to shrink their civic space.
To optimally master these opportunities and challenges, CSOs need to:
♦ improve their accountability practices to fully engage stakeholders in shaping the organisations’ work and
♦ improve global CSO collaboration to preserve civic space.
In the coming years the Charter will support both developments in the following way:
Build strong accountability
It is our strategic ambition to significantly strengthen the accountability practice of CSOs and Charter Members in particular. Accountability – understood as practices that ensure CSOs act transparently, effectively and in close collaboration with their key stakeholders – is the key building block for positive impact.
We will build and support strong practices as we:
Make accountability a leadership priority
Accountability fails to inspire and is associated with time consuming reporting. This is a fundamental misconception. At the heart of accountability is engagement with CSO supporters, beneficiaries, activists, staff, donors etc. to improve the quality and impact of its work. As such, accountability is a strategic leadership issue.
To help underpin this approach we will:
♦ Provide thought leadership on the strategic dimension of accountability as a driver for better quality and impact for stakeholders.
♦ Encourage discussion with CSO leadership.
♦ Support implementation of a leadership-driven approach to accountability.
Foster digital stakeholder engagement
Technological advances such as the explosion of social media and mobile devices have empowered people worldwide to create and drive the changes they want to see. This offers an unprecedented opportunity to extend our reach and impact while putting key stakeholders into the driver’s or co-pilot’s seat of all our activities.
To support this development we will:
♦ Cooperate with social movements and online campaigns organisations to identify key opportunities & challenges of digital people engagement.
♦ Foster organisational developments that support large-scale, timely and decisive people engagement to help create greater value for stakeholders.
Drive continuous improvement
Regular and independent assessments of organisations’ accountability practices help drive positive performance. To support this we will:
♦ Continuously improve our reporting and vetting system to drive organisational CSO developments towards better accountability practices.
♦ Foster active exchange of expertise among Charter peers.
♦ Enable the entire sector to access Charter knowledge and experience.
Enhance public trust
It is the Charter’s ambition to significantly strengthen public trust in the legitimacy and credibility of our sector beginning with our Members. CSOs having trust within greater society is pivotal to having a positive impact.
To this end we will:
Communicate that we are accountable
♦ Build the Charter brand as the recognised vehicle for high standards of accountability.
♦ Ensure that Charter activities support the above brand promise.
♦ Commission a study that compares accountability practices of Charter Members with other CSOs’ performance.
♦ Enhance internal Charter ownership and proud communication of Charter membership to the public.
♦ Enlarge the Charter network to strengthen our collective voice.
♦ Communicate the positive impact of CSO work on society and the environment.
Improve global collaboration
It is the Charter’s ambition to ensure a truly global approach and practice of CSO accountability. A shared understanding of what accountable CSO behaviour looks like and a global network of like-minded peers will help improve our impact in a globalised world. To this end we will:
Build a global CSO Accountability Standard
♦ Work with numerous national CSO accountability networks from around the world to develop a collective Global Standard for CSO Accountability.
♦ Ensure the Standard reflects a truly global yet nationally-tested approach, covering all basic issues of accountability in plain language.
♦ Integrate the Standard into the Charter commitments and reporting requirements.
♦ Promote the use of the Standard among local, national and international CSOs to strengthen a collective voice on globally shared CSO values.
♦ Align with other accountability frames to minimise multiple reporting requirements.
Strengthen the Charter’s global DNA
♦ Review all Charter activities in light of the truly global approach to accountability identified in the Global Standard project.
♦ Ensure global representation on the Board of Directors and Independent Review Panel.
♦ Translate Charter documents and website into more languages.
Turning strategy into practice
This strategy will only succeed if actively owned and implemented not only by the Charter Secretariat but by all Charter Members individually and collectively. Members should commit to contributing time, resources and leadership capacity to achieve the ambitious goals laid out in this paper.
The strategy is supported by annual work plans including indicators of success. It has no end date but rather lays out the corner stones of our strategic direction as approved by the Charter’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in April 2015. It will be annually reviewed by the Board and periodically by the AGM.
What does success look like?
Success of the strategy outlined in this paper means: CSOs committed to the Charter have significantly strengthened their accountability practices. They are trusted by their societies as transparent, effective actors who collaborate closely with their stakeholders to deliver optimal impact for people’s lives and the environment. They accomplish this through a truly global
understanding of mutual accountability, supported by global CSO solidarity.