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Accountability in Practice: Mechanisms for NGOs

This paper examines how accountability is practiced by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Five broad mechanisms are reviewed: reports and disclosure statements, performance assessments and evaluations, participation, self-regulation, and social audits. Each mechanism, distinguished as either a ''tool'' or a ''process,'' is analyzed along three dimensions of accountability: upward–downward, internal–external, and functional–strategic. It is observed that accountability in practice has emphasized ''upward'' and ''external'' accountability to donors while ''downward'' and ''internal'' mechanisms remain comparatively underdeveloped. Moreover, NGOs and funders have focused primarily on short-term ''functional'' accountability responses at the expense of longer-term ''strategic'' processes necessary for lasting social and political change. Key policy implications for NGOs and donors are discussed.

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Author: Ebrahim, Alnoor
Published Date: May, 2003