Fulbright Academy joins NGO GRI Reporting Pioneers

Joining the likes of  Amnesty, the Earth Charter Initiative and the Social Investment Forum, the Fulbright Academy released its first, integrated GRI report. Why?

The Fulbright Academy for Science and Technology  describes itself as an independent global network of Fulbrighters, collaborative partners and friends. It takes prides in its multi-national, multi-generational and multi-disciplinary network that supports local and international collaboration. And it differentiates itself from the Fulbright Exchange Program, the U.S. Department of State and some 200 other Fulbright alumni organizations around the world.

The Fulbright Academy has delivered and participated in many events around the world. Some of these are described as case studies in its 2009-2010 Review. Given the tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa, interesting initiatives to point out may be those related to Internet Data & Digital Libraries in North Africa (events held in Morocco and USA). Other events ranged from a Forum on Human Values and Sustainability (USA) to a Conference on Health & Nursing Education (Qatar).

The Fulbright Academy has demonstrated convening power. It has leveraged its network to engage and collaborate with diverse institutions and participants. These ranged from minority students to Nobel laureates, and business executives to non-profit leaders. They come together to share knowledge and find ways to collaborate and explore how to improve the state of practice.

But what explains why the Fulbright Academy, one of over 200 formal and informal Fulbright alumni networks around the world, chose to include GRI’s triple-bottom-line and stakeholder-centric sustainability reporting process? After all, GRI reporting in the NGO/Non-profit sector is just emerging, as I recently blogged about here. Before offering my answers, allow me to disclose that I am a board member of the Fulbright Academy and that I assisted with the reporting process.

There are several reasons to adopt GRI and its NGO Sector Supplement: a well-known and trusted reporting framework was adopted to shape a more credible and shared understanding of purpose and activities, clarify positioning and provide an opportunity for learning. The latter was leveraged by discussing drafts of the Review with an External Advisory Panel. Their letter to the readers of the Fulbright Academy’s 2009-2010 Review is reproduced on pages 27-28.

Another reason became more obvious to me while drafting this blog: similar to a Fulbright experience at an individual level, the GRI reporting process provides an opportunity for self-discovery and engagement at an institutional level. It also provides an opportunity to lead by example. As Fulbrighters, how could we have resisted these temptations?

Do you fel that the Fulbright Academy gained value by adopting and integrating GRI in its reporting process? Or was this perhaps a waste of limited resources of an NGO? – Your comments and reposting invited.