Addressing accountability in NGO advocacy

Addressing accountability in NGO advocacy

Global and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are the most distinct organisational form of civil society, and as such have become increasingly involved and influential in forming public opinion and policy through targeted and professional campaigning and policy advocacy. Yet their growing power has also raised questions about the basis on which they engage in these activities, including their accountability and legitimacy in view of frequent explicit or implicit claims these organisations make to social representation, the quality of their research work, and the public benefit they provide.

Based on a world-wide survey of civil society self-regulatory initiatives undertaken by the One World Trust this paper examines how NGOs have begun to address the accountability challenges they face in particular when engaging in advocacy and explains some of the strengths and weaknesses of existing self-regulation for NGOs engaged in advocacy.

The briefing identifies for each major dimension of accountability a set of initial good practice principles for advocacy organisations, including:

  • transparency of the evidence basis used in advocacy, of funding and funders for specific campaigns and activities, and around forward looking information such as strategy, and the processes used to determine advocacy priorities
  • opportunities for participation of beneficiaries and other key stakeholders of the organisation in the development of advocacy objectives and their review; and

  • the development of criteria for evaluating the impact of advocacy with beneficiaries and other stakeholders, and the establishment of feedback and complaints handling mechanisms to address individual experiences and problematic impacts
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