GRI launched NGO Sector Supplement – but what for?

GRI’s 2009 list of Non-Profit/Services category lists 40 reporters worldwide, although perhaps 1/3 of these may be listed in the wrong category. From 31 December 2011, reporting with the NGO Sector Supplement will be required for NGO reports to be recognized as GRI Application level A.

It’s not clear if GRI is simply sloppy about maintaining its (still valuable) list of reporters or if there is a more fundamental problem about classification based on notions of profit, ownership or legal structure.

In this list, I was happy to find organizations like Oxfam UK and even the Korean Standards Association. But finding General Motors Argentina, Henry Davis York, one of the largest law firms in Australia, Yanacocha, and one of Peru’s largest gold mines in the NGO category is probably just evidence of sloppy data entry and lack of a sensible review system.

Once these sorts of mistakes have been remedied, there may be more interesting questions to consider. For example, will such a ‘spring cleaning’ remove the Zuercher Kantonbank, which is a publically mandated financial institution but – according to its report – used the GRI Financial Sector Supplement? Or should the US Postal Services be included in this category?

Perhaps other questions to consider: why have barely 30+ (?) NGO reporters (around the world!), a negligible number when you consider size and importance of this sector, adopted the GRI framework? Was it really the lack of an NGO Sector Supplement? And will the newly established requirement to follow this NGO Sector Supplement to achieve an A-level help tackle this problem? I would welcome your thoughts, especially if you work with NGOs/non-profits

The NGO Sector Supplement is now available for downloading here. The main sector topics considered particularly relevant to NGOs are the following: Stakeholder Engagement,  Program Effectiveness, Gender and Diversity, Public Awareness and Advocacy, Coordination, Resource Allocation, Ethical Fundraising, Labor/Management Relations, Prevention of Corruption.