“Unlike the corporate model, charities have the expressed and infallible aim of providing care. They are not laboured with the requirement to return shareholder value at any cost… the value they create for their subject is measured differently. Charities have the DNA to care; to go first before it’s officially required.” (fundraising.co.uk)
One of the reasons for this is the integral role that impact plays within charity governance; organisations already focus on the social, environmental and economic impact of their activities, and both positive and negative impact as well to create a realistic understanding of their activities. As a useful article in Pioneers Post notes, “in both the charities’ SORP and the Charity Governance Code, requires charities to report on the effect they are having on people’s lives, in line with objectives but recognising that there may be negative effects”.
Understanding the Delta
However, despite this obvious natural synergy with the aims of the SDGs, charities can still do more to help drive progress towards the 2030 target. In a survey of 2019 by NIVCA, just over half of respondents were aware of the SDGs. 14.3% of respondents intentionally set out to undertake work to become aligned to the SDGs, while 40.1% of respondents said that they would consider undertaking more work to align.
In the Higher Education sector, 55% believed their institutions could be doing more to help achieve the SDGs; only 4% thought they could not (research carried out by Vertigo Ventures, 2021). And beyond these perceptions, it is estimated that the entire world is 25 years behind on SDG targets.
How can charities better share their ways of working with other sectors, when SDG reporting can be seen as a corporate hindrance rather than enabler? And how can they maximise the scale and impact of their activities?
A Bright, Collaborative Future
Collaboration through emerging technology can offer a viable solution.
One example is the TrackImpact.org free-to-access global collaboration platform, which brings together different sectors worldwide to work together to pool resources on important projects for positive social, economic and environmental impacts.
In the case of charities (which tend to favour Good Health and Wellbeing, Reduced Inequalities and Gender Equality), this would create a clear path to share governance best practice around impact with those driving projects that progress these particular goals. Engaging in a sense of community around goals of restructuring towards brighter SDG outcomes, and sharing both information and activities, can help better align organisations from many sectors. It will also be crucial for corporates that are concerned around the bureaucratic implications of changing governance frameworks.
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