Thursday, January 3, 2013

Part 2: Achieving the Full Benefits of Meeting Standards

This three-part series recounts one organization’s journey to meet the Accountability Standards through integrating their entire organization. The Charities Review Council’s Lynnea Atlas-Ingebretson sat down with Ekta Prakash, Executive Director of CAPI, an organization working to guide refugees and immigrants in the journey toward self-determination and social equality.
How Meeting Standards Boosts Internal Accountability and Transparency
Part 2 of a 3 part series inspired by CAPI’s journey to Meet Standards
By Lynnea Atlas-Ingebretson

"One of the most valuable reasons that a nonprofit should go through the Charities Review Council’s Accountability Wizard review process is for internal transparency."
This is not what I expected to hear from Ekta. Often the Council discusses the importance of sector transparency and accountability to meet donor or funder expectations. This is still very true, however, Ekta shed light on the day-to-day value of meeting Standards.

“A lack of internal transparency within an organization can be a source of great inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and strife.”

In a blog article for the Center for Effective Philanthropy called “Transparency Starts at Home,” Phil Buchanan discussed the role internal transparency plays in enabling staff to improve their work, as well as some of the concerns leadership has with being transparent.

Ekta shared that “accountability to do what we say we're going to do is huge for our relationships with funders, board members, and the community; it's not just the leadership that is responsible, it’s the whole staff.”

Sounds simple enough, but do all staff members at your organization understand this and its impact on the future of your work and mission?

Ekta went on to say that when staff understands the importance of accountability and transparency and their role in maintaining it, they have more authentic buy-in and can communicate clearly to all constituents.

These are some key ways to boost internal accountability and transparency:
  • Encourage staff to be focused on impact and realistic about potential outcomes. Leadership must provide staff with the information they need to make sound plans, while encouraging a safe space for frank conversations to avoid over-promising.
  • Enable staff by providing access to internal processes. When staff members have clear roles, know what is expected of them, and what to expect from others, accountability and transparency becomes a possibility and a priority.
  • Promote understanding of what you’re doing and why. Clarity of finances, funding strategy, and strategic goals promotes the feeling of stability and confidence within your organization, enabling staff to be more effective and focused on their objectives.

Read Part 1: Intentionally Including Board & Staff in the Review Process is the Golden Ticket

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