Is GRI Too Much Transparency for NGOs?

With the publication of the NGO Sector Supplement, GRI sent a signal that NGOs are not exempt from transparency and accountability. How will NGOs respond?

One of the key difference between GRI’s ‘generic guideline’ and its NGO Sector Supplement is an emphasis on program effectiveness in the latter. But there are also other and related elements, such as engagement of affected stakeholders and partners in coordination, planning, implementation and evaluation. Or reviewing practices and performance related to diversity and corruption. The latter will probably receive more visibility following a story about corruption involving grants made by the Global Fund, a partnership that channels funds to fight AIDS, TB and malaria to some of the poorest countries in the world. Many of these countries also rank low on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

In my recent blog on the Emerging Field of Non-Profit & NGO GRI Reporting, I highlighted that there are now nearly ten NGOs that have applied GRI’s NGO Sector Supplement since its publication in 2010. This group includes Amnesty International UK and the Earth Charter. The most recent addition to this pioneering group is the Fulbright Academy for Science & Technology, about which I blogged here.   

Is GRI asking too much disclosure and requiring a too rigid format from NGOs – akin to a ‘transparency and accountability orgy’ NGOs don’t want to participate in? Not really. GRI’s NGO Sector Supplement was developed in collaboration with, inter alia, the International NGO Accountability Charter. The members of this group are listed below:

All members of the International NGO Accountability Charter are required to submit an annual report in line with the GRI NGO Sector Supplement. First time reporters are encouraged to use the GRI NGO Level C reporting template which is a lighter version of the NGO Sector Supplement. (This reminds me also of the approach adopted by the International Council on Mining and Metals, a mining idustry club, about which I blogged here: 15 of 18 ICMM Company Members Produced A+ GRI Reports). 

Looking at the membership list of the International NGO Accountability Charter and the commitment made to GRI reporting, I wonder if the NGO sector will soon (within two years?) become one of the dominant reporting sectors in the GRI Reporting List. What is your expectation?