THE OMEGA RATING

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITYCHARTER

Together as ONE we can RIGHT every WRONG is our slogan. To start with as the PEOLE SECTOR we as NGOs need to take some corrective steps within the sector itself as we are now 1.6 million NGOs and most of them are formed for all the wrong reasons while the few amongst us who are doing genuine work also lose out on PUBLIC TRUST due to the all the bad players who are busy chasing money from government bodies (which is we the people�s tax money being misused) and other organisations with absolutely no accountability. It is time to reclaim and preserve PUBLIC TRUST in the PEOPLE SECTOR.

Who we are

We, iCONGO- Indian Confederation of NGOs- a collective movement of non-government organisations (NGOs) signatory to this Charter, are independent non-profit organisations (and are the people sector and represent the citizens and communities of India) that work nationally and globally to advance human rights, sustainable development, animal rights, good governance, environmental protection, humanitarian aid and other public goods.

Our organisations are proud and privileged to work across a wide range of states and cultures within India and internationally also, with a diverse range of peoples, issues and in varied eco-and social and political systems.

Our right to act is based on universally-recognised freedoms of speech, assembly and association as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on our contribution to democratic processes, and on the values we seek to promote.

Our legitimacy is also derived from the quality of our work, and the recognition and support of the people with and for whom we work and our members, our donors, the wider public, and governmental and other organisations around the world.

We seek to uphold our legitimacy by responding to inter-generational considerations, public and scientific concerns, and through transparency & accountability for our work and achievements by measuring the impact and efficiency of management and administration.

By signing this Charter we seek to promote further the values of transparency and accountability that we stand for, and commit our NGO to respecting its provisions.

How we work

NGOs can complement but not replace the over-arching role and primary responsibility of governments to promote equitable human development and well-being, to uphold human rights, animal rights and socio-political issues and to protect ecosystems, and to work with a rights-based approach.

We also seek to promote the role and responsibilities of the private sector to advance human rights, animal rights and sustainable development, and protect the environment.

We can often address problems and issues that governments and others are unable or unwilling to address on their own. Through constructive challenge, we seek to promote good governance and foster progress towards our goals.

We seek to advance our mission through research, advocacy, policy influencing and programmes. It is common for our work to be at the international, national, regional and local levels, either directly or with partners.

We seek to work closely with other organisations and citizens from various sectors where this is the best way to advance our individual missions.

We seek to promote �Philanthropy for social justice� where we don�t reach out to people to JUST GIVE MONEY to us as an organisation but to build an eco system were we get citizens involved with the work of the people sector as a collective to address the cause dear to a person�s heart and that she/ he is passionate about. We wish to engage people as partners for change who works with our organisations and the PEOPLE SECTOR (NGOs) by understanding social issues and being active advocates to address the issue by standing up and speaking out and thus we aim to bring various people and organisations to come TOGETHER AS ONE TO RIGHT EVERY WRONG.

Our mantra with citizen supporters is DON�T JUST GIVE, make a social justice investment first by understanding the issues that you as citizen are passionate about, then link up with a pre screened NGO after understanding the work they do, their values, administration and management, ask for transparency and accountability and then make a social investment with time and involvement because let us remember it is not charity, but justice that is wanting in the world.

The Charter�s purpose

This Charter outlines our common commitment to excellence, transparency and accountability. To demonstrate and build on these commitments, we seek to:

  • identify and define shared principles, policies and practices;
  • enhance transparency and accountability, both internally and externally within the sector to build an ecosystem and reclaim and preserve public trust in the people sector even if it means we as a collective need to expose NGOs that have just been formed for all the wrong reasons;
  • encourage communication with stakeholders; and
  • improve our performance and effectiveness as organisations.

We recognise that transparency and accountability are essential to good governance, whether by governments, businesses, media, institutions, people and especially non-profit organisations/ NGOs as we are the PEOPLE SECTOR and thus PUBLIC TRUST preservation is paramount to address all issues that we as a collective and individually work upon.

Wherever we operate, we seek to ensure that the high standards which we demand of others are also respected within our own organisations.

The Charter complements and supplements existing laws. It is a voluntary charter, and draws on a range of existing codes, norms, standards and guidelines.

We agree to apply the Charter progressively to all our policies, activities and operations. The Charter does not replace existing codes or practices to which signatories may also be party, except as specified by them. Its adoption does not prevent signatories from supporting or using other tools to promote transparency and accountability.

We will at regular intervals refine the Charter through experience and learning from citizens, taking into account future developments, particularly those that improve transparency and accountability.

Our stakeholders

Our first responsibility is to achieve our stated mission effectively and transparently, consistent with our values. In this, we are accountable to all our stakeholders.
Our stakeholders include:

  • Peoples, including future generations, whose rights we seek to protect and advance;
  • Ecosystems, which cannot speak for or defend themselves;
  • Our members and supporters;
  • Our staff and volunteers;
  • Organisations and individuals that contribute finance, goods or services;
  • Partner organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, with whom we work;
  • Regulatory bodies whose agreement is required for our establishment and operations;
  • Those whose policies, programmes or behaviour we wish to influence;
  • The media; and
  • The general public.

In balancing the different views of our stakeholders, we will be guided by our mission and the principles of this Charter.

Principles

Respect for Universal Principles

NGOs are founded on the rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We seek to advance international and national laws that promote human rights, animal rights, ecosystem protection, sustainable development and other public goods.

Where such laws do not exist, are not fully implemented, or abused, we will highlight these issues for public debate and build social justice through citizen action and advocate appropriate remedial action.

In so doing, we will respect the equal rights and dignity of all human beings.

Independence

We aim to be both politically and financially independent. Our governance, programmes and policies will be non-partisan, apolitical & independent of specific governments, political parties and the business sector.

Responsible advocacy

We will ensure that our advocacy is consistent with our mission, grounded in our work and advances defined public interests.

We will have clear processes for adopting public policy?positions, (including for partners where appropriate,) explicit ethical policies that guide our choices of advocacy strategy, and ways of identifying and managing potential conflicts of interest among various stakeholders.

Effective Programmes

We seek to work in genuine partnership with local communities, NGOs and other organisations and most of all the PEOPLE OF INDIA (who are the core of our work as the PEOPLE SECTOR) aiming at sustainable development responding to local needs.

Non-Discrimination

We value, respect and seek to encourage diversity, and seek to be impartial and non-discriminatory in all our activities. To this end, each organisation will have policies that promote diversity, gender equity and balance, impartiality and non-discrimination in all our activities, both internal and external.

Transparency

We are committed to openness, transparency and honesty about our structures, mission, policies and activities. We will communicate actively to stakeholders about ourselves, and make information publicly available.

Reporting

We seek to comply with relevant governance, financial accounting and reporting requirements in the countries where we are based and operate.

 

  • We report at least once a year on our activities and achievements. Reports will describe each organisation�s:
  • Mission and values;
  • Objectives and outcomes achieved in programme and advocacy;
  • Environmental impact;
  • Governance structure and processes, and main office bearers;
  • Main sources of funding from corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals;
  • Financial performance;
  • Compliance with this Charter; and
  • Contact details.

Audit

The annual financial report will conform to relevant laws and practices and be audited by a qualified independent public accountant whose statement will accompany the report. We shall also have a provision for a citizen audit where people who are supporters should be able to understand the accountability and impact created by the funds.

Accuracy of information

We will adhere to generally-accepted standards of technical accuracy and honesty in presenting and interpreting data and research, using and referencing independent research.

Good Governance

We should be held responsible for our actions and achievements. We will do this by: having a clear mission, organisational structure and decision-making processes; by acting in accordance with stated values and agreed procedures; by ensuring that our programmes achieve outcomes that are consistent with our mission; and by reporting on these outcomes in an open and accurate manner.

The governance structure of each organisation will conform to relevant laws and be transparent. We seek to follow principles of best practice in governance. Each organisation will have at least:

  • A governing/ mentoring/advisory body which supervises and evaluates the chief executive, and oversee programme and budgetary matters. It will define overall strategy, consistent with the organisational 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, responsibilities and terms of members of the body, and preventing and managing conflicts of interest;
  • A regular general meeting with authority to appoint and replace members of the body.
  • We will listen to stakeholders� suggestions on how we can improve our work and will encourage inputs by people whose interests may be directly affected. We will also make it easy for the public to comment on our programmes and policies and involve citizen supporters integrally in governance and also promote live reporting with citizens by taking them to programs where they can see our work in the first person.

Ethical Fundraising

Donors

We respect the rights of donors: to be informed about causes for which we are fundraising; to be informed about how their donation is being used; to have their names deleted from mailing lists; to be informed of the status and authority of fundraisers; and to anonymity except in cases where the size of their donation is such that it might be relevant to our independence. We also respect the fact that we should not be mercenary in our fundraising approach and just selfishly raise funds for ourselves in the short term while harming the overall public trust for the long term and thus work towards creating an sec system for sustainable development by engaging supporters with holistic involvement and not just getting them to give money.

Use of Donations

In raising funds, we will accurately describe our activities and needs. Our policies and practices will ensure that donations further our organisation�s mission. Where donations are made for a specific purpose, the donor�s request is honoured. If we invite the general public to donate to a specific cause, each organisation will have a plan for handling any shortfall or excess, and will make this known as part of its appeal. iCONGO as a first in the world shall rise above raising funds and has pledged never to raise funds for itself but shall selflessly facilitate funds for pre screened member organisations who have adhered to THE OMEGA RATING � Transparency and accountability charter. iCONGO meets its costs by providing paid services to members and other organizations, and not through grants. iCONGO shall endeavour to mainstream small national and grassroots NGOs and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) with the People of India who can thus directly support them rather than supporting funding NGOs who may mostly have huge administration/ marketing costs and thus only a small percentage of donations raised reached the cause or community a donor wants to support. iCONGO as a collective movement shall ensure that such costs are kept to the bare minimum and whatever the costs may be of member NGOs shall be communicated to the donors with full transparency and accountability.

Gifts in kind

Some donations may be given as goods or services. To retain our effectiveness and independence, we will: record and publish details of all major institutional gifts and gifts-in-kind; clearly describe the valuation and auditing methods used; and ensure that these gifts contribute towards our mission. iCONGO shall also ensure accountability of time invested by people as volunteers as this time should also be measured in monetary terms to respect the primacy of the work required of volunteers in the voluntary sector.

Agents

We seek to ensure that donations sought indirectly, such as through third parties like face to face fundraising agencies, Direct Marketing agencies, event agencies and others, are solicited and received in full conformity with our own practices and with full transparency and accountability. This will normally be the subject of written agreement between the parties.

Professional Management

We manage our organisations in a professional and effective manner.

Our policies and procedures seek to promote excellence in all respects.

Financial controls

Internal financial control procedures will ensure that all funds are effectively used and minimise the risk of funds being misused. We will follow principles of best practice in financial management.

Evaluation

We seek continuously to improve our effectiveness. We will have defined evaluation procedures for our boards, staff, programmes and projects on the basis of mutual accountability.

Public Criticism

We will be responsible and dignified in our public criticisms of individuals and organisations, ensuring such criticism amounts to fair public comment. We would encourage instituting a dialogue as well with the concerned organization, as the point is to have effective transparency and not just transparency. There should be a learning curve for an organization to be able to work in areas where they are lacking rather than just a public critique process. We will take responsibility as people who give feedback, to be willing to commit time to work to see it being actualized.

Partners

We recognise our that organisational integrity extends to ensuring that our partners also meet the highest standards of probity and accountability, and will take all possible steps to ensure that there are no links with organisations, or persons involved in illegal or unethical practices.

Human Resources

We recognise that our performance and success reflect the quality of our staff and volunteers and management practices, and are committed to investing in human resource development.

Remuneration and benefits should strike a balance between public expectations of voluntary-based, not-for-profit organisations and the need to attract and retain the staff we need to fulfill our mission. Our human resources policies seek to conform fully with relevant international and national labour regulations and apply the best voluntary sector practices in terms of employee and volunteer rights and health and safety at work. Human resources policies will include procedures for evaluating the performance of all staff on a regular basis.

Bribery and Corruption

Human resources policies will specifically prohibit acts of bribery or corruption by staff or other persons working for, or on behalf of, the organisation.

Respect for spending monies

We shall be responsible for all expenditures incurred and ensure fair negotiations to get the best value for money. Based on the maxim money saved is money earned we will be prudent and frugal with our expenses and not spend unnecessarily or without any urgent and real requirement.

Respect for Sexual Integrity

We condemn sexual exploitation, abuse and discrimination ?n all its forms. Our policies will respect sexual integrity in all our programmes and activities, and prohibit gender harassment, sexual exploitation and discrimination.

Whistle-blowers

Staff will be enabled and encouraged to draw management�s attention to activities that may not comply with the law or our mission and commitments, including the provisions in this charter

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