Ethical governance

Minimum  standards: Ethical governance

1* Is legally registered  with the appropriate authorities.

The NGO is registered with the National NGO Registration Board or in the case of an NGO network, it is either registered with the NGO Board or with the relevant district authorities. The candidate  NGO will be able to produce an up-to-date registration cer tificate or evidence showing that  renewal of a cer tificate has been solicited and is pending.

2. Has a constitution and demonstrates it adheres to its provisions.

The Constitution must be a written document. The committee will check that selected articles it identifies are fully adhered to. This may include articles on the use of funds, composition of the Board, or other governance and/or  programme issues. (Some of the  provisions of the  Constitution of an  NGO applying for a provisional certificate may however not apply during the first few months of operations).

3* Has written and shared vision, mission/goal,  objectives  and values (or equivalent).

These are both documented and shared. Documentation may be in correspondence, on the NGO’s notice board, etc. They are shared to the extent that, for instance, any staff are able to recollect them and Board members are familiar with them.

4. Has an office and address.

The office is in actual existence; the NGO has both a physical address (e.g. a street/road plot number) and correspondence address (postal box, e-mail or other). The physical address is made public (on the NGO letterhead, if available, for instance) and is known to the majority of the NGO’s local stakeholders. The correspondence address is operational for communications purpose and is mentioned on the NGO’s official exchange/letters.  (For start-up  NGOs, only a physical address is required.)

5. Has a development-oriented, non-partisan agenda, fostering citizens’ rights.

The NGO’s  mission/goal  and  its practice  is focused on improving people’s welfare and/or  rights, without engaging, as a body, in par ty political activities. While an NGO may  have income-generating activities, these are meant to benefit, directly or indirectly, the NGO’s beneficiaries.

6. Does not engage in any subversive action.

Subversion is defined as any act meant  to undermine the state by violent and unconstitutional means. While an NGO may protest and act against unfair policies and actions by government, this will at all times be within the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda.

7* Has laid-down governance  and reporting structures,  with a governing body whose members meet regularly.

The NGO has a board, committee or other type of governing structure  t o which its staff and  other  stakeholders are accountable. The body meets regularly, possibly as stipulated by its Constitution, and at  least once a year. The body is responsible for the overall affairs of the NGO and is availed with the necessar y information and authority to perform its functions. Its meetings are minuted and these minutes are accessible to those concerned.

8. Has a governing body whose members are regularly appointed or elected,  in accordance  to its constitution and generally accepted practices.

The NGO’s board, committee or other governing body consists of elected or appointed individuals whose mandate  is not open-ended  (the number of years a member will occupy a position on this body has an upper limit) and these members are regularly elected or appointed, in a transparent  manner.

9. Actively avoids any conflict of interest among members, staff, and board members.

While the board or coordinating committee of the NGO does not involve itself in its day-to-day activities, it effectively plays a super visor y role, including overseeing the use of financial and  other  resources. The NGO staff, through  the  Chief Executive, are accountable to the Board for the day-to-day operations. These roles are documented and adhered  to.

A conflict of interest may include: a board member benefiting from  access  to  the  NGO’s resources  (transpor t,  fuel, stationer y), other than  as stipulated in the constitution or other policy documents or benefiting from its decisions (e.g. consultancy work, “bright ideas”). It may include members of staff using the NGO’s  resources for their own benefit, beyond that  allowed in their conditions of ser vice and NGO policies. Not only is the NGO reprimanding such practice, but it also actively avoids it.

10*Does not condone any misconduct by its members,  staff, and/or board members.

The NGO  reprimands any of its members, staff or Board members  who  disregard  any  organisational  policy or regulation, and/or  act against the NGO’s values. This may include sharing of confidential information, misappropriation of resources, and other unethical behaviour.

11.In the case of an  NGO network, additionally to the above, it can demonstrate:

a) the existence of laid down membership criteria.
There are  clear, written rules that  inform any prospective applicant of its eligibility to join the network and that inform the selection of any such applicant, in a transparent  manner. These rules have been officially sanctioned by a representative body of the  net work or its entire  membership and  are currently in use.

b) the existence of a regularly updated members’ register
A regularly (e.g. yearly) updated  register of the membership is kept and is open to scrutiny by members of the Network.

c) the involvement of the members in its policy-making processes

Members take  par t  in  any  process  that  sanctions  the Network’s policy (such as its mission, its strategies and main programmes). This could be through regular meetings, or electronic and other means of consultation.

Resources management

Minimum  standards: Effective management of resources

Documents its financial transactions.

All  financial transactions are  transparently and effectively documented.  Financial records are  up to date including detailed records of income and expenditure cash book and banking records. These are kept by the appropriate  person in the organisation, whose work is super vised by the competent authorities. Where procedures governing financial transactions are written down, these are adhered  to.

13. Prevents  any abuse of its property, whether by Board members, staff or its membership.

The NGO prevents any of its stakeholders to use its property, other  than  as  allowed  for  by  policy, e.g.  assets  and consumables are not used or disposed of for personal gain; property is not used for purposes other than for which it has been acquired.

14.Where it has staff, recruits personnel in a transparent  manner

Staff (including the head  of the NGO) are  recruited in a transparent  manner, following written policies or guidelines where these exist, to avoid nepotism and all other forms of favouritism.

15.Produces  an annual report that is publicly accessible and can fulfil the information requirements of its stakeholders.

An annual report will normally at least include a brief on the NGOs activities in the past year, list its Board members and suppor ters, and provide key financial figures (income and expenditure). Such a report will be available at least at the NGO office for public scrutiny, and will be produced annually within a reasonable time period (no longer than 9 months after the year in review has come to a conclusion).

16. Complies  with reporting and other  requirements,  as perUganda’s laws and statutes.

These include adhering to the NGO board requirements and those of the Companies Act (in cases where the NGO is registered as a company). Reporting to local authorities and other government institutions may also be required, depending on circumstances. 17.Has a mechanism to authenticate  its documents and safeguard its organisational identity.

The NGO has taken measures to ensure that  its identity is safeguarded  and that  no-one misuses its name. This may include the use of an organisational seal, stamp, authorised signatories and other identification mechanisms.

18. Only receives  funds that are consistent  with its mission or goal.

The NGO does not raise funds (through donor funding or other income generation activities) for purposes other than those that  contribute to the realisation of its mission/goal. The NGO therefore avoids any situation where it might loose focus and/or  become a quasi-business enterprise, driven by a profit motive.

19. Uses any surplus funds only to further its mission.

Should the NGO have any funds above and beyond those directly utilised for agreed  projects or programmes, such surplus funds are  only used to fur ther its mission/goal, to the exclusion of any other purpose.

20. Has a properly managed bank account.

The NGO operates at least one bank account, with a licensed financial institution. It adheres  to the rules and regulations of that  financial institution. The account  is only used for organisational (not private) transactions. Withdrawals of banked funds are properly documented, are in accordance with written procedures if any, and are authorised by at least two signatories.

21.Keeps a regularly updated register of fixed assets.

The NGO maintains a  register of fixed assets (vehicles, equipment, furniture, land, etc), in accordance  with auditing practice. This is open to scrutiny and is regularly updated

22.In the case of an  NGO network, additionally to the above, it can demonstrate:

a) having procedures  for the acquisition, management and disposal of assets

The Net work has procedures that  inform the acquisition, management  and disposal of assets, such as vehicles, books and other resource materials, furniture, etc. These procedures have been adopted  by the members and are in use.

b) how members  benefit from any acquired resources

Financial and other resources made available to the Network (e.g. through fundraising) benefit the members, rather  than any secretariat or coordinating committee alone. The network is able to demonstrate  that this is so.

Standards for improvement

23.Maintains sound systems to ensure its resources are efficiently and transparently managed including procedures for the acquisition, management and disposal of assets. The NGO has financial policies that are officially sanctioned, documented, and adhered  to by all its stakeholders. These include policies for  acquiring assets  (such  as  through transparent tendering procedures); for managing and maintaining them (such as through the use of appropriate records log books and  maintenance  schedules) and  for disposing of them (such as through internal and external adver tising).

24.Adheres to gender  and minority equity standards,  e.g. in recruitment. The NGO has a policy or written guidelines that ensure it is fostering gender equity, safeguards  the rights of minorities and avoids any form of discrimination in its operations and internal practice. This covers such areas  as staff recruitment, remuneration, promotion and staff development.

25.Has, and follows, internal policies  in place. The NGO has documented policies and procedures in place and in use that govern its human resources (this may include recruitment, remuneration  and other benefits, promotion, disciplinar y and grievance procedures, health); its operations (this may include monitoring and  evaluation guidelines, par tnership principles, planning guidelines, etc.) and  its finances (this may include accounting guidelines, financial reser ves policy, depreciation policy, funding principles, etc.)

26.Adheres to Generally Accepted  Accounting Principles  and Standards. These  are  a  set  of  principles and  standards  that  are internationally applicable. Fur ther  information  can  be obtained from the International Accounting Standards Board or IASB which publishes and  interprets International Accounting Standards, which are “authoritative statements  of how par ticular types of transaction and other events should be reflected in financial statements”. These normally inform the practice of char tered accountants  and quality-cer tified audit firms in Uganda.

27.Has independently audited and publicly accessible  annual accounts  and acts upon any audit reportrecommendation. The NGO has its accounts  audited  annually by a  legally registered firm of auditors. These audited accounts and the auditors’ repor t are accessible for public scrutiny. The NGO acts upon the recommendations  of the auditors (such as through a ‘management letter’), if any.

28.Has mechanisms to measure the cost benefit of fundraising and running the organisation. The NGO is able to estimate its cost effectiveness, and the amount  of resources it puts into its fundraising effor ts. The NGO is able  to  measure  its ‘overhead’  costs  (e.g. administration and coordination costs) in relation to its total costs. The NGO learns from this information and adapts  its practice where necessar y. 29.Develops  and uses management tools/practices,  as per its stage of development and requirements. As the NGO develops, it is able to adapt  its management systems and practices to its stages of growth. This may for instance, entail developing or adapting  an  information management  system, or decentralising d ecision-making.

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