Will NGOs use GRI’s NGO Sector Supplement?

GRI launched its NGO Sector Supplement in 2010. Amnesty International UK and Earth Charter became the first reporters to use it. Highlights of GRI’s webinar on the NGO Supplement held on Nov 3, 2010, are provided below.

The idea for a Supplement for the NGO sector came initially from the signatories to the INGO Accountability Charter. The final version of the Supplement was released in May 2010 at the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency. The Supplement was developed through a consensus seeking process involving a multi-stakeholder, geographically diverse working group. It took two years to finalize the Supplement and involved two rounds of public commenting period.

During the webinar (slides attached here: GRI NGO Sector Supplement Webinar 4 Nov 2010), I was somewhat disappointed to learn that GRI only received a total of 150 comments during the development of the sector supplement. Does not sound like a lot, does it? And I remain unsure how to interpret this number: is it as a sign of confidence in GRI/Working Group and drafts produced, or does it show a lack of ownership and support – or perhaps reporting apathy within the NGO sector?

The main sector topics addressed in the GRI NGO Sector Supplement include the following:

  • Affected Stakeholder Engagement 
  • Program Effectiveness
  • Gender and Diversity
  • Public Awareness and Advocacy
  • Coordination
  • Resource Allocation
  • Ethical Fundraising
  • Labor/Management Relations
  • Prevention of Corruption

GRI also developed a ‘C-Level’ reporting template + tips to simplify the life of first time NGO reporters. [But I hope you use that excel spread sheet with useful commentary only to produce the in-house ‘technical version’ and publish a much more creative report that can convey ‘the feel’ of your important work and outcomes].

Being involved with NGOs, this all seems pretty straight forward to me – although I appreciate that, like any other organization, NGOs main purpose is not reporting and that there are always resource constraints. But if your NGO can’t address these sorts of questions, perhaps it should considering merging with another that can...

You can access Amnesty’s report here  and Earth Charter’s report here.  The Earth Charter report, self-declared to C-level, included three NGO Sector Supplement Performance Indicators (NGO SS3 - System for program monitoring, evaluation and learning; NGO SS6 - Process to coordinate Info on joint projects; and NGO SS8 - Breakdown of funding received by source).

Amnesty was more elaborate in its GRI-checked, B-level report and used nine Performance Indicators from the NGO Sector Supplement – reproduced further below- along with a hosts of other GRI Performance Indicators.

I was interested to note that, amongst the 26 webinar participants, nearly a dozen indicated that they were considering or were already involved in producing a report for an NGO and expect to use GRI’s NGO Sector Supplement. Do you expect a real uptake of the Supplements by NGOs? As a donor, volunteer, or corporate partner, would you value an NGO which demonstrates that it seeks to go the extra transparency and accountability mile by using GRI’s reporting framework?

GRI NGO SS Indicators used by Amnesty