FAQs

Desirable Norms
Minimum Norms
Basic Norms
List of Accredited Organizations

Accreditation and its Process

Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency verifies a Voluntary Organization’s (VO’s) adherence to certain established set of standards. If the VO meets the prescribed standards, it receives a certificate of accreditation. The standards or norms for the accreditation process are developed through a participatory process involving all the stakeholders.

CREDIBILITY ALLIANCE (CA), which acts as a self-regulatory organization for the voluntary sector, will be accrediting the VO. The accreditation process will be overseen and supervised by CA.

The accreditation will be carried out by a separate team of assessors selected by CA. The assessors would be qualified and experienced persons from the voluntary sector; they would include consultants and, auditors of voluntary organizations, eminent social workers, and persons who have been involved with development activities in the voluntary sector. CA will ensure that the assessing team possesses relevant expertise and knowledge to judicially assess the VO on all its capabilities and processes.

The accreditation awarded to the VO can be used in the organization’s communications to government authorities, public and private institutions, or the general public. The VO can use the accreditation on its letter heads, visiting cards of its employees, and any other literature that it wishes to come out with. The accreditation can be relied upon by the donors and other funding institutions to act as an indicator of transparent and efficient governance practices.

No, accreditation is not mandatory, and the choice of getting accredited or not lies completely with the VO. The accreditation process begins after the VO makes a request for accreditation. However, accreditation would be beneficial to a VO, both in terms of improving organizational capabilities as well as achieving public acceptance. It would also enable a VO to get technical assistance and would promote uniform documentation practices.

Accreditation can be powerful agent of change in the voluntary sector, as it will help in enhancing public confidence, and promoting the accountability of VOs. It acts as a tool for promoting good organizational practices by participating organizations. It also acts as a staff education tool and can help a VO to underline its quality development outcomes. Although increased funding opportunities might not be the sole reason for getting accredited, donors would view accreditation as a benchmark for arriving at their funding decisions.

Yes, the accreditation is comparable across the entire voluntary sector. The accreditation does not differentiate among organisations with respect to the type of work they do, the community they serve, or the people they cater to. Hence, an accreditation awarded to a VO is a useful tool to judge the governance practices of VOs in the entire voluntary sector. CA is currently primarily focused on organisations working for the welfare of marginalised and vulnerable groups including women, children, dalits, tribal’s, disabled, minorities and economically deprived sections of society.

There are two main eligibility criteria that a VO should satisfy for being accredited: A. The VO should be registered organization under Section 25 of the companies Act, the Societies Registration Act, the Indian Trust Act, or the Bombay Public Trust Act. B. the VO should have been in existence for at least one year.

A VO which fulfills CA’s minimum norms can apply for accreditation through any of CA’s officers. CA has four regional co-ordinator officers, located in Delhi. Alternatively, it can contact CA’s operations office in Delhi to get details of the process of accreditation. The accreditation officer will guide the VO and its representatives on the process of accreditation.

The accreditation awarded by CA to VOs falls under two categories: Minimum Norms and Desirable Norms. A particular VO is free to choose the appropriate category under which it wishes to get itself accredited. In addition, CA has also developed accreditation for specific programmes undertaken by a VO. A VO can choose to get itself accredited for these programme norms which fall under two categories: Minimum Norms and Best Practice Norms, CA plans to operationalize these programme norms in the near future to aid the VOs in benchmarking specific programmes.

The process of accreditation will be carried out in a systematic and organized manner, ensuring optimum participation from the VO. Once the process of accreditation is initiated by the VO, CA will send an information requirement request to the VO listing the information that the VO will have to furnish for aiding the assessors in forming an initial basis for the accreditation.

Once this information is collected and analyzed, the assessor will follow it up with a meeting with the management of the VO and gain more insight into the practices and policies of the VO.

Subsequently, the assessor would complete the assessment of the organization with respect to the guidelines laid down. The assessors will then prepare a draft report based on the assessment and analysis of the information provided by the VO. This draft report will be shared with the VO to ensure that it is free from any factual inaccuracies. The report will then be discussed by a committee of members set up by CA. if the VO has a difference of opinion with respect to any of the interpretations in the report, it will be requested to forward a separate note on any clarifications required to CA. This note will be attached along with the report for consideration of the accreditation committee. The committee is the final authority which assigns the accreditation to the VO.

The VO will have to furnish information about its governance practices, policies, financial statements, and its various activities to the assessing g authority. The details of such information requirements will be given to the VO before the process of assessment commences. As the assessment is a mutual process, the co-orporation of the VO in providing sufficient information will help the assessor to take an informed decision in the accreditation process.

There are five key parameters on which the VO would be assessed and subsequently accredited. These are: Identity: Vision, Aims, Objectives & Achievements; Governance; Operations; Accountability & Transparency. The assessor would evaluate the VO on each of those parameters and arrive at the final decision after discussion with the VO and taking into account the VO’s own analysis.

Yes, there is a manual which describes in detail the various factors that will be evaluated during the accreditation process. The manual enumerates the factors along with the norms that need to be adhered to, as well as the required documentation. The manual also elucidates the entire process of accreditation and the steps involved in each part of the accreditation process. The manual can be accessed on the internet at www.credibilityalliance.org. Alternatively, any VO can contact Credibility Alliance to request for a copy of the manual.

The process of accreditation is estimated to take two to three months from the receipt of the assessment form and other supporting documents. The time taken for field assessment would be dependent on the size of the VO, the spectrum of activities carried out by the organization, the amount of information provided by the organization, and the other operational issues. The process of accreditation can be faster if the VO is more participative in the assessment. Nonetheless, CA would strive towards completing the exercise in the shortest possible time so that it serves the best interests of both parties.

The cost would be dependent on the size of the organization. Details of the costs would be communicated to the interested organization as soon as the initial information form is received by CA.

The accreditation is valid for a period of five years from the date of accreditation, subject to annual reconfirmation from CA. Therefore, it is mandatory for the VO to submit some basic information to CA on an annual basis, failing which CA has the right to withdraw the accreditation granted to the VO.

The accreditation processes envisioned as a continuous exercise which would be carried out by CA to enable enhanced recognition of VOs and promote better and efficient organizational practices. CA expects to reach out to more and more VOs in the voluntary sector and hence this initiative would evolve into a continuously participatory process.

The committee compromises knowledgeable individuals from the voluntary sector who would bring their experience and expertise in various sections of the voluntary sector to the committee discussions. The decision of accreditation taken by the committee will therefore be deemed as final.

No, there would be no process of appeal, nor can the decision be challenged; this in order to preserve the status of the committee as the final decision-making authority. However, the first draft of the assessment report will be sent to the VO with the detailed assessment and analysis enumerating the norms that the VO has adhered to. The VO has the right to point out any factual inaccuracies or changes in the report which can be substantiated by suitable documentation and reasoning.

A certificate of accreditation would be given to the VO on completion of the assessment. The certificate would mention the level of norms (minimum or desirable) that the VO has adhered to. An announcement of this accreditation will also be posted on CA’s website, subject to the concurrence of the VO.

Yes, the VO would receive a detailed report of the assessment, once the assessment is complete and the VO accepts the decision of the committee. The report will be comprehensive in terms of the assessment factors which had a bearing on the decision and the reasons why such a decision was taken. The report would also make recommendations to the VO for possible improvement in the areas where it might be lacking so that the overall efficiency and process of the organization can be improved through specific action points.

Yes. The VO can announce its accreditation status in public, as well as in any communication to its clients or other stakeholders. It is CA’s aspiration that every VO showcases the accreditation to all the concerned stakeholders, regulatory authorities, and donors and makes its presence visible in the voluntary sector.

CA would act as a facilitator in the entire process of accreditation. CA will aid the VO to the extent possible to help it gain accreditation and thus facilitate a better understanding of the process. CA would be responsible for the supervision of the process and will also be the authority which would be the arbitrator in case of any difference of opinion.

As a part of the surveillance process, VOs have to provide some minimum documentation on an annual basis. This documentation could include audited financial statements, details of board decisions, change in board structure, and annual reports. This process is to ensure that the VO complies with the necessary norms and that there is a continuous effort towards maintaining organizational efficiency. VOs are also requested to actively take part in CA state committee meetings and promote CA norms for a well-governed voluntary sector.

Yes, the accreditation is comparable across the entire voluntary sector. The accreditation does not differentiate among organisations with respect to the type of work they do, the community they serve, or the people they cater to. Hence, an accreditation awarded to a VO is a useful tool to judge the governance practices of VOs in the entire voluntary sector. CA is currently primarily focused on organisations working for the welfare of marginalised and vulnerable groups including women, children, dalits, tribal’s, disabled, minorities and economically deprived sections of society.