Relying on feedback: an accountability journey for Portuguese social economy organizations

By September 13, 2021 CSO Standard, NMedia

Anabel Cruz, ICD, Uruguay

The issue #6 of this Newsletter featured the work of the Department on Social Economy at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) campus in Porto. In 2015, an “Assessment of Social Economy Organizations (SEOs) in Portugal” examined Portuguese SEOs in terms of their governance and management practices where the need for strengthening their competencies in the areas of ​​transparency and accountability was identified. The study also highlighted a lack of appropriate mechanisms for being accountable to their own beneficiaries – as proposed by the Global Standard for CSO Accountability.

In 2020, the Department took a step forward and decided to go beyond approaching SEOs’ accountability just through its graduate programs and launched the project on “Transparency in Portuguese social economy organizations (SEOs) – promoting alternative accountability practices”. This project aimed to raise awareness and strengthen the effectiveness of the Portuguese SEOs regarding organizational transparency and accountability issues.

Within the scope of this project, a Transparency Committee made up of 12 practitioners and SEOs representatives was set up to critically examine the accountability practices of the Portuguese social economy sector, as well as the challenges of transparency in organizational management and performance.  The committee met six times between July 2020 and June 2021 and their journey was based on continuous feedback. The committee co-created a set of outputs, and conducted a participatory critical reflection and debate on organizational transparency and accountability practices within the social economy sector in Portugal. The journey contributed to knowledge-sharing, while also posing key questions to move the agenda forward. The creation of an accountability tool was one of the most important steps of the work undertaken by this committee.

The committee established strategic principles and criteria to be fulfilled by the Accountability tool, which were carefully considered for developing the online mechanism to be tested and made public later in 2021.

How does the committee see its own future? The committee has defined three main future tasks to build on ongoing work, namely:

  1. Monitoring the evaluation and improvement process of the Accountability Tool
  2. Active promotion of the mechanism through different communication channels
  3. In the near future, the Committee even foresees the creation of an observatory on the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the mechanism which could prepare annual reports and thus become an opportunity to disseminate and share good practices and experiences of the SEOs.

More information about the project:

ATES — UCP | Projeto Transparência nas Organizações de Economia Social Portuguesas | Universidade Católica Portuguesa – Porto  

ATES — Transparência nas OES Portuguesas – Medium

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