According to the UNDP, funds lost to corruption in the Global South are 10 times the amount of official development assistance (ODA), while the World Bank estimates that each year between 20% and 40% of ODA itself is “stolen” by public officials. It does not end here though, as its pervasiveness and magnitude – when combined with the risks inherent to the non-profit sector – has now reached the point where corruption is perverting NGO’s missions. At stake here is the accountability and credibility of the sector as a whole. But are its leaders up to the challenge?
Acknowledging the elephant in the room
A simple litmus test for this is to ask an NGO’s leadership the following question: ‘Is corruption a problem within your organisation?’ In a 2014 survey of Australian and New Zealand NGOs, while 90% felt that corruption was a problem for the sector, 72% (or three out of four) stated that it was not an issue for their organisations. In other words, while it was a problem, it wasn’t theirs, but someone else’s! So if most non-profit leaders don’t see corruption as an issue, why should their staff? More