To know who, how and what are very relevant aspects when working with any NGO. An increasingly demanding society requires information about the activity it supports and the impact of its economic contribution. It is not a question of mistrust, but rather a reflection of the responsible attitude of donors and their desire to be involved.
This greater demand has come to accompany a process of professionalization and accountability in which NGOs have been involved for over a decade. At the Loyalty Foundation, and given our experience in the analysis of non-profit institutions since 2001, we have detected that transparency and good practices have become fundamental tools to ensure the viability of any organisation. NGOs are aware that in order to maintain their activity, they need the support of society. Having social support allows them to sustain their projects and this support is based on trust, which is built with that transparency and by offering information that is truthful and accessible to society.
In order to have citizens´ support it is important to show and practise transparent management, putting information at the disposal of the same society that demands it. In this context, communication has become a fundamental aspect: we must communicate what the donor and the citizen wants to know. We have seen that this has meant a change of behaviour in NGOs, which have strengthened their communication channels. In particular, they are taking advantage of social networks and the internet in order to find new ways to reach their donors.
However, the important thing is not to appear to do something but to prove it. That is why, in 2015, the Loyalty Foundation launched the accredited NGO Seal: an accreditation that allows donors to identify which institutions comply with the Principles of Transparency and Good Practices proposed by the Foundation. Our team of analysts contrasts compliance with 9 Principles, which are set down across more than 40 indicators. From extensive documentation, aspects such as the good functioning of the NGO’s governing body to the fulfilling of its responsibilities and the effective use of its resources are analysed: if the institution is sustainable and if its communication is reliable, as well as its activities are being coherent with its general interest mission, amongst other aspects.
Currently, more than 140 NGOs have the Seal, which is requested voluntarily and has a validity of two years. These are all kinds of groups, i.e. social action associations and foundations, development cooperation and humanitarian action, and environmental. They are different sized organisations with budgets of less than 100,000 euros and up to 50 million euros, which carry out projects for the care of children, women, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, the elderly, etc. They also work in areas such as health, education, assimilation into working life and volunteering, amongst others. Although there is a great range of organisations, they all have a common link: they consider transparency and good practices to be a fundamental value and they want to transmit this commitment to society as a whole. Accredited NGOs are authorised to use the distinction in their communication and fundraising materials, as well as in reports, web pages, social networking profiles, advertisements or bulletins.
Through such tools, we want to support NGOs and increase collaboration between organisations and donors, both private and institutional. Undergoing an independent analysis and obtaining the Seal helps to build that trust that institutions need so much and to fulfil the information requirements of the donors. At Loyalty Foundation, through our website (www.fundacionlealtad.org), donors can consult the transparency reports of the NGOs that we endorse.
Patricia de Roda, General Director of Loyalty Foundation.