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Transparency and accountability are pivotal to achieving an effective civil society. Transparency refers to being honest and open; by implication, civil society organisations are expected to be clear enough for private and public scrutiny. Accountability is the ability for CSOs to willingly answer and take responsibility for their actions (decisions, activities or policies) and results. This is central to discussions relating to problems in non-profits as they are the two main pillars of good corporate governance and generally guide the way NGOs are operated, regulated or controlled.
Inline with fostering transparency and accountability, there is the need for CSOs to put in place internal self-regulatory mechanisms that serve as a check to their various activities, this is reflected in their governance strategy and structure, human resource and management, project management, monitoring, evaluation and reporting, and their financial management and sustainability.
The measures include – complying with registration and reporting requirements, adopting a core vision, values and mission, electing a board to guide its mission and review its performance, publishing annual reports, documenting administrative procedure, documenting project work plans and budgets, having a monitoring and evaluation system in place, providing sound account of fund management(recording all financial transactions with relevant receipts and supporting documents); putting systems in place to prevent fraud -such as regular audits,two signatures to account; constituent/ stakeholder feedbacks; among others.
CSOs are accountable to the government, donors, beneficiaries (people), partners, mission, board, staff and their fellow CSOs. This fosters responsiveness to the needs of their communities, the people they work with and other stakeholders engaged in development. Hence, proper accountability measures facilitate increase donor and citizen support.
Through advocacy, CSOs have played a critical role in promoting transparency and accountability within the government and the general society which has yielded positive results. However, they have been encouraged to improve their transparency and accountability mechanisms especially due to the increased rate of money laundering and terrorist financing activities that CSOs can be vulnerable to. To maintain public trust, CSOs need to work on improving their level of transparency and accountability.