Donors Forum announces NGO annual reports competition
On 27 April, the Donors Forum launched the NGO annual reports’ competition “Reference Point” aimed at developing principles of transparency and accountability in the third sector which was last held in 2014. More than 300 NGOs have taken part since 2004.
As well as the public annual reports’ competition, the revised “Reference Point” programme will also involve public discussions, a training programme and a study to assess the transparency of Russian NGOs. The reports will be evaluated by experts against certain criteria, says the programme’s head, Elvira Aleynichenko. They’ll determine whether the report clearly demonstrates an organisation’s ethos, whether it answers the question of what the organisation actually does, whether it contains information on resources and the results of their work in the social sector, and how the organisation itself has changed during the period under review. The experts will also evaluate the quality of the report itself in terms of its conciseness and ease of accessibility by the public.
All the reports will be divided into four categories: Basic level (documents containing all the required information but not sufficiently worked through); “Bronze standard” (good quality reports but still requiring further work); “Silver standard” (high quality reports with some details needing to be fleshed out) and “Gold standard” (exemplary reports containing comprehensive and creatively presented information).
Public NGO reporting helps officials understand who they’re investing in, says Alexandra Alexandrova, Chair of Moscow’s Public Relations Committee, adding that such reporting can help in the fight against fraud in the charity sector. Non-financial reporting can also be an additional “litmus test” that defines those professional NGOs with whom people and those in need of help can work, she explained.
Non-financial reporting is also important for assessing NGO effectiveness and in determining their skill levels, according to Artem Shadrin, Head of Strategic Development and Innovation at the Ministry of Economic Development. It’s the non-financial part of the report that shows the results of an NGO’s work, he said.
157 organisations took part in “Reference Point 2013” with 20, 61 and 49 NGO reports receiving gold, silver and bronze standards respectively. A further 23 bodies also received special mention for participating in the competition.
“Reference Point” is supported by the Moscow Public Relations Committee and the Ministry of Economic Development in partnership with the Agency of Social Information and the “Blagosfera” Centre.