Transparency, Accountability & Performance Measurement – Les Hems Visit
Monday, 31st August 2009 at 3:30 pm
A GuideStar model database of Australian Third Sector organisations would increase Not for Profit transparency, accountability and performance measurement here, according to Les Hems, the Director of GuideStar UK.
Speaking at an event co-hosted by the Centre for Social Impact and Pro Bono Australia, Hems highlighted the importance of Third Sector performance measurement, and how investment in transparency and accountability is essential to achieve meaningful performance measurement.
GuideStar UK was set up in 2003 to provide a single, easily accessible source of detailed information about every charity and voluntary organisation in England and Wales. The GuideStar website allows users to search detailed information on 169,000 organisations in the UK’s Third Sector. The 2008 Australian Senate Standing Committee on Economics recommended that a ‘GuideStar-type system,’ be investigated for Australia.
Hems says that there could be a website up and running in Australia within 2 to 3 years which presents information systematically on Third Sector organisations.
Hems says that performance measurement that is equivalent to high quality market intelligence will benefit all Third Sector stakeholders, however the lack of a fundamental metric for evaluation makes such measurement difficult.
Hems says that while profitability can be used by the private sector to compare and evaluate organisations, Not for Profit organisations do not share a fundamental metric that can achieve this.
Hems says that transparency, accountability and performance measurement are three steps in a sequential process, and that effective and meaningful performance measurement can only be achieved after investing in the preceding steps of transparency and accountability.
Hems says that a GuideStar type website in Australia would see early wins around increasing transparency – however we wouldn’t see the value of the accountability or performance management till it had been running for 3 to 4 years.
Hems says that mechanisms for transparency in the 21st century need to be web based and searchable, allowing users to access freely available information. He says that consumer behaviour means people expect to be able to go on a website and find all these organisations.
Les Hems is the Director of Guidestar UK Data Services, and one of the world’s leading experts on Third Sector information.