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In the context of increased public scrutiny of non-profit organisations and increasing pressure on the UK’s international development practitioners to deliver ‘value for money’, do ‘more with less’ and ‘apply zero tolerance to corruption’, the SGS team has made a strong contribution to the discussions during the Bond event.

Bond is the largest UK network for NGOs working in international development. Beyond the classic issues of how to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of aid and development, Bond’s agenda heavily featured the new challenges that the sector is facing.

What is the future of NGO funding in light of decreasing trust, Brexit and the rise of online crowdsourced platforms? What role for NGOs under DFID’s new leadership? What to do in an increasingly aggressive media environment, where any incidental wrongdoing by one NGO is blown up to such proportions affecting the whole sector? What to do with the ruthless pursuit towards more transparency, where NGOs are under pressure to confront skepticism with further disclosure of information about the ins and outs of the organisation?

During a panel session on The Truth Behind Transparency, SGS’ Lieske van Santen argued that ‘transparency alone is not a fix’ and its sole pursuit in light of media attacks will ‘not be helpful nor a desired response to NGOs that want to effectively rebuild trust with their funders’.  

Building on over 15 years’ of practical experience in benchmarking NGOs through SGS’ NGO benchmark assessment, she advocated it is the independent stocktaking of the accountability performance of a NGO that will empower the organisation to identify and evaluate the weaknesses and risks, develop appropriate corrective actions, and as such effectively harness trust. Meanwhile, the stand attracted interest from a range of stakeholders and led to lively interactions about SGS’ offerings to the sector.

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About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.