Tips & Tricks - Making Your Organization Accountable
Accountability is a very large and academic term that encompasses several issues for an individual, household, group, society, organization or Government; some of these may include organizational management structure, financial procedures, and human resource policies. Organizations and governments with high accountability and credibility are often preferred by donors and are more likely to get funded.
World over, NGOs chiefly work to compliment government efforts and bridge gaps on various societal matters and on instances; act as a social monitor to ensure that government accounts. In Africa for instance, NGOs have worked very effectively in areas where both government and private players have failed miserably, this ability of NGOs to work in the most fragile and backward places has been recognized and applauded by both national and international entities regionally and internationally.
With the rising influence of NGOs in the development sector, there also has been an increase in questions regarding the accountability and legitimacy of these same NGOs as it is deemed that they respond differently to the issues related to accountability and transparency when it comes to them. Having worked with various Organizations, I share with you some of the tips to ensure that your Organizations is accountable on a broad scale.
Accountability basically refers to an organization being answerable to a third party. It refers to the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. As an NGO you are accountable to donors, project partners, and local communities and considering these, I propose four aspects of accountability for an NGO but there may be more based as applicable globally.
Vertical Accountability: It’s applied externally and refers to the responsibility of an Organization to funders, donors and government institutions.
Horizontal Accountability: Refers to being responsible with project partners, peers and related organizations.
Downward Accountability: This entails an Organization being accountable to its beneficiaries and the target audience. You have received funding from a donor for the uplifting and improvement of lives of these beneficiaries and therefore you are answerable to them.
Internal Accountability: This is the basis of all four levels of accountability and one of the most important. This is to be answerable to your own employees and your organizations mission. It means that you have ethical standards and governance structures and justify your organizations core value.
You might be wondering that your organization has been doing exemplary social work for years and for these years you never worried about being accountable, so why the need for accountability as an ongoing practice in an Organization as opposed to a subjective practice? The following points will help you understand the importance of accountability.
§ Accountability creates a platform for improved relations with donors and funders: Most donor agencies prefer organizations that have well-built accounting mechanisms and follow through reports – narrative and financial
§ With efficient accounting and audit you are can ensure that all your transactions are secure and you are able to keep a check on money.
§ Local communities tend to get involved with NGOs that have shown accountability in the past. Communities will support will participate in project implementation if there is a semblance of proper accountability
§ Proper accountability will facilitate in developing partnerships with other organizations and agencies, communities and networks
§ Organization staff will continue to work as they would feel secure to work for an organization that is credible.
§ Accountability tools help to keep check on activities thereby improving performance.
Despite the fact that International NGOs and few regional and local NGOs have been using various methods to enhance accountability for quite some time now; it is only recently that accountability questions are being raised for small entities as well.
I hope that you can adopt few tips from this to make your organization more accountable and credible.