A series of posts about the misconceptions created by charity Web sites continues today.
Misconception No. 3: Nonprofits don’t have any operating standards to follow
In recent years, a lot of good tools and guidelines have been developed to help nonprofits improve their practices and their professionalism. Here are just a few of them:
- The Sphere Project. Launched in 1997 by a group of humanitarian nonprofit organizations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Sphere Project is a set of standards to guide nonprofits as they respond to disasters.
- Good Enough Guide. A product of the Emergency Capacity Building Project, the Good Enough Guide contains guidelines on how to be accountable to local people and measure program impact in emergency situations. It includes tools to help charities assess the needs in those instances.
- People in Aid Code of Good Practices. People in Aid was created by humanitarian and development organizations to improve management and human-resources practices.
- HAP – I (Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International). HAP has its roots in the joint evaluation of the Rwanda genocide, which highlighted the need for greater accountability by humanitarian organizations. HAP-I is an international self-regulatory body focused on improved accountability practices.
- InterAction Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Standards. InterAction is an alliance of U.S.-based international charities that serve poor people in the developing world. The PVO Standards define the financial, operational, and ethical code of conduct for its members.
While many organizations use these tools and follow these guidelines, they rarely refer to them on their Web sites. This adds to the general attitude by donors that anything goes, and it puts good organizations in direct competition with fly-by-night charities. It also decreases the quality of aid as each new organization will end up making the same mistakes because they’re unaware of existing resources and standards.
The Nurse-Family Partnership does a great job of providing its donors with research, evaluations, and information on public policy. Links to all of these are featured prominently on the home page, making them readily accessible to even casual donors.
Does your organization tell its supporters about the standards it follows in carrying out its work? Tell about it in the comments space below.