1.) It is a leadership tool to drive positive impact
Accountability is often perceived as bureaucratic and imposed process, while it is really our license to operate. The Charter prioritises accountability for impact in regard to the people and causes we serve. All else follows from there: strategy, programming, operations, fundraising, communication etc. The Charter helps to set a clear accountability framework both for the organisation as a whole and the individuals that drive it forward in order to achieve optimal impact. It leaves it to the organisation, however, to determine with its stakeholders what positive impact looks like and how to best get there.
2.) It engages stakeholders to co-create better quality
The Charter ensures that Member organisations are transparent about their identity, commitments, successes, failures, environmental impact, and so forth. This is a necessary first step enabling stakeholders to hold the organisation to account. The Charter also asks for evidence on active engagement of key stakeholders in all phases of their work and how this has increased organisational knowledge and concretely led to positive management response. Key stakeholders should be co-creators of permanent improvements.
3.) It improves trust in the organisation
CSOs demanding high standards of accountability from governments and the corporate sector are only credible if they can evidence compliance with the same standards. Charter reporting requirements have therefore been developed by the Global Reporting Initiative, the world’s largest sustainability framework for business and governments. The Charter has a particularly strong compliance mechanism with an Independent Review Panel annually assessing Members’ progress against their commitments.
This supports the credibility of the code.
4.) It helps mitigate risk
Strong evidence of commitment to accountability, shared and continuously developed with peers from the most well-known ICSOs, help Charter Members to manage reputational risk. The Charter helps clarify the parameter for positive action, prevents wrongdoings and mitigates the effects of possible failures or mistakes. It allows for a systematic and globally consistent risk management while constantly learning from the best of peers.
5.) It takes a truly global approach to accountability
Concepts for good CSO accountability can vary quite substantially in different regions of the world. For an ICSO operating globally it is important to find a shared concept. The Charter has initiated a cooperation with eight well-established CSO accountability networks from Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America to develop a collective Global Standard for CSO Accountability that will be fully reflected in the Charter and reduce the multiplicity of different reporting requirements over time.
6.) It supports cohesion in dispersed organisations
As CSOs internationalise and decentralise, allowing for increasing autonomy for activists and supporters, it becomes difficult to ensure unity. Strong and succinct Charter commitments, based on a truly global understanding of CSO accountability, shared by peer ICSOs and regularly reviewed by an external panel, help unite dispersed organisations behind a shared culture of accountability.