Strong accountability principles and practices are essential for CSOs’ legitimacy, the quality of our work and to maintain the trust we depend on.
Our following Accountability Commitments are at the core of what we regard as good practice in CSO accountability and form the value basis of Accountable Now. All Members have signed these 10 Accountability Commitments and seek to respect and promote them.
The 10 Accountability Commitments – known as the INGO Accountability Charter, a voluntary code of conduct – were first initiated in 2005 by 11 international CSOs. In 2008, Accountable Now (until 2016 also named INGO Accountability Charter) was founded as an organisation to assure compliance and to further improve international civil society standards. In 2014, the Commitments were fully revised by a working group of Accountable Now Member Organisations.
The Purpose of the 10 Accountability Commitments
These 10 Accountability Commitments outline our common commitment to transparency and accountability as being essential to good governance, whether by governments, businesses or civil society. Wherever we operate, we seek to ensure that the high standards which we demand of others are also respected in our own organisations.
The Commitments complement and supplement existing laws. They are voluntary and draw on a range of existing codes, norms, standards and guidelines. Their adoption does not prevent Members from supporting or using other tools to promote transparency and accountability.
We commit to respecting and promoting human rights as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- We will respect and advance the equal rights and dignity of all human beings.
- We seek to advance international and national laws that promote human rights,
ecosystem protection, sustainable development and other public goods.
- Where such laws do not exist, are not fully implemented, or are being abused,
we will highlight these issues for public debate and advocate for appropriate remedial action.
We seek to be both politically and financially independent. This will require:
- Governance, programmes and policies that are non-partisan, independent of
specific governments, political parties and the business sector;
- Effective systems and practices to prohibit, prevent, detect and report on
corruption, bribery and conflict of interest by staff or other persons working for
or on behalf of the organisation;
- Disclosure of donor identities when the size of their donation(s) is such that it
could be seen to compromise our political or financial independence.
We commit to transparency and honesty regarding our mission, structures, policies and activities. This will require:
- The implementation of an open information policy which ensures timely,
relevant and accurate information is disclosed in an accessible format; and any
exceptions e.g. due to data protection rights, are clearly and reasonably
- Complying with the relevant governance, financial accounting and reporting
requirements in countries where we are based and operate;
- Issuing annual reports describing: our mission and values, objectives and
outcomes achieved in programmes and advocacy work, environmental impact,
governance structure, processes and main office bearers, main sources of
funding, financial performance, compliance with this Charter and a contact
- Basing disclosure of information (wherever possible and appropriate) on
existing formats such as those provided by GRI or IATI to allow better
systematic use of the data.
We commit to effective governance that ensures we act in accordance with stated values and agreed procedures and our programmes achieve outcomes that are consistent with our mission. This will require:
- Publication of a clearly defined and transparent mission, governance structure
and decision making process at the governance level;
- A governing body which supervises and evaluates the chief executive, and
oversees programme and budgetary matters. This body will define overall
strategy, consistent with the organisation’s mission, ensure that resources are
used efficiently and appropriately, that performance is measured, that financial
integrity is assured and that public trust is maintained;
- Written procedures covering the appointment, internal accountability,
responsibilities and term limits of members of the governing body;
- Effective risk management and compliance with relevant laws and regulations
in the jurisdictions within which the entity operates;
- Publication of an annual financial report conformant with relevant laws and
practices and audited by a qualified independent auditor whose statement will
accompany the report.
We commit to ensuring that our advocacy is consistent with our mission, grounded in our work, based on evidence and advances defined public interests. This will require:
- Explicit ethical policies that guide our choices of advocacy strategy (targets and
claims) including responsible use of people’s images and stories;
- A clear and published process at organisational level for adopting public policy
positions (including for partners where appropriate);
- Ensuring that assertions are based on evidence and meaningful stakeholder
engagement wherever possible;
- Being responsible in our public criticism, ensuring it amounts to fair public
comment and giving a right of reply.
We commit to working in genuine partnership with local communities, NGOs and other organisations which aim for sustainable development in response to local needs. We commit to the empowerment and inclusive participation of people whose lives are affected by our initiatives. This will require:
- Policies and practices ensuring effective stakeholder involvement in the
development, implementation and evaluation of the organisation’s programmes
and advocacy work wherever possible;
- A well-functioning feedback and complaints mechanism to be in place;
- Practices to ensure that partners also meet high standards of accountability and
that there are no links with organisations, or persons involved in illegal or
We commit to valuing, respecting and encouraging diversity, and seek to be impartial and non-discriminatory in all our activities. This will require:
- Implementation and management of policies and processes that actively
encourage the integration of people into governance bodies, staff and
programmes, who may have been excluded due to gender, disability, race, age,
religion or for other reasons relating to identity;
- Identification of potentially discriminated groups (where this does not lead to any
danger for those identified) – which will inform the planning, implementation and
evaluation of operational activities and programmes and support the setting of
inclusion objectives where relevant.
We commit to minimising the environmental impact of our operations and programme work wherever possible, balancing it with necessities to fulfil our mandate and financial affordability. This will require:
- Implementation of a written Environmental Management System (EMS) guided
by a high level Environmental Policy and endorsed by senior management
- Specification in the EMS of measures taken to minimise environmental impact,
and of mechanisms to evaluate their effectiveness and make changes where
- Oversight of the EMS’ day-to-day operation, including monitoring, reporting and
We commit to ensuring that all donations further our mission. We respect the rights of donors and the dignity of people affected by our fundraising activities. This will require:
- Implementation of policies and processes that ensure: fundraising materials
adequately describe our work and needs whilst protecting the dignity of people
affected by our fundraising activities; donors are informed about the status and
authority of fundraisers; donations are effectively used to further our
organisation’s mission; donor requests are honoured where donations are
made for a specific purpose and donors are adequately informed on how
donations are used;
- Publication of details of all major institutional gifts and gifts-in-kind, clearly
describing the valuation and auditing methods used;
- Adherence to own practices regarding donations received through third parties.
We commit to effective, ethical management and continuous improvement in the quality of our work. This will require:
- A clear strategy and effective monitoring, evaluation and learning procedures
being in place for our boards, staff, programmes and projects, to constantly
ensure we reflect and improve the quality of our work on the basis of mutual
- Following principles of best practice in financial management to ensure all
funds are effectively allocated to achieve strategic objectives;
- Minimising the risk of funds being misused;
- Investing in human resource development to enable staff and volunteers to do
their best in advancing our mission;
- Human resource policies which conform with relevant standards and are in
accordance with the values of our organisations in terms of employee and
volunteer rights and health and safety at work;
- Regular performance appraisals of all staff;
- Remuneration and benefits that strike a balance between public expectations
of not-for-profit organisations and the need to attract and retain the staff
required to fulfil our mission;
- Policies and processes which ensure respect for sexual integrity in all our
programmes and activities, and prohibit gender harassment, sexual exploitation