Our shared PACT: Accountability

Our shared PACT

Accountability: An accountability revolution

“There’s a real responsibility that falls on civil society organisations, schools, churches and community groups” Mansfield community workshop

“True accountability builds respect and ownership and only comes with genuine relationships” Civil society pioneers workshop

For too long many of us have focused on accountability to funders and to government.  It’s time we all focus on accountability to the communities and people we exist to serve.

Civil society organisations fear being blamed for failure, and accountability can too often mean ticking boxes or being timid: form-filling, fear and insecurity that stifles innovation and doesn’t address what really matters. Paperwork might be completed but  poor practice, abuse and inequality continue.

There is a lack of collective accountability in our systems, and cultures of silence have persisted.  Some in civil society knew of abuse at Oxfam and elsewhere, and others knew that Kids Company would fail: there was a culture of silence and this undermines shared accountability.

What matters most is the people we are here to support and our relationships with them.  From long-established charities to new social movements, we will all:

  • Be accountable first and foremost to the people, communities and causes we exist to serve – where necessary, standing up to funders and government
  • Be willing to be held to account, not just expecting others to be accountable to us but being accountable to them and developing new and more challenging ways of being accountable
  • Commit to building relationships, putting in the time and effort to seek feedback, genuinely listen and change
  • Co-design our accountability systems and practices with those we are accountable to
  • Recognise our responsibility to future generations and act accordingly
  • Adhere to common public standards on critical issues such as safeguarding, health and wellbeing

The future could include…

Civil society collaborate with local authorities to reimagine their roles, like cooperative councils as one example…  

New kinds of unions for the gig economy to hold companies to account…  

A duty to future generations in every organisation’s charter…

Organisations’ structures and behaviour valued as much as the work that they do – including in measurements, evaluation and funding…  

Organisations open and transparent about their practice and their mistakes, learning and evolving…

Thriving community media as ways are found to support it, holding those in power locally to account…

Explore 92 ways to put the PACT into practice »

Full worksheet: how to put the PACT into practice »


Stories about greater accountability:

Hand raised silhouetted against a sky

92 ways to put the PACT into practice

17th December 2018

Did you see the Civil Society Futures PACT and wonder “what can I do now?” Here are some suggestions for things you could do or ask your organisation.

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The Food Journey

20th November 2018

At our final launch event, performers took people on a journey through their food history – exploring issues of power, accountability, connection and trust through different senses.

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London Queer Muslims

18th November 2018

As well as trying to build the power of queer Muslims in London, the group seeks to embody its ideals of inclusion in its own internal practices, developing and sharing power among their members – often based on ancient Islamic traditions.

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“We are here”: art to bring the PACT to life

18th November 2018

Artist Rebecca Strickson has created a response to the civil society PACT through four beautiful banners that bring it, and people’s voices, to life.

Think people can’t have control over their neighbourhoods? Meet Community Land Trusts

14th November 2018

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) ensure local people can continue living in their communities and enable them to play a leading role in shaping the places they call home.

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Is the third sector sexist?

8th November 2018

Allegations of sexual misconduct at Oxfam, Save the Children and the Presidents Club have dominated headlines this year. Is civil society doing enough to address sexism in the workplace?

Unlocking funders’ treasure chests of data

30th October 2018

Is there a way to bring funding information together so that anyone could quickly see what’s being funded in a particular community or sector? In an ideal world, all grants data would be shared openly.

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From murky to making it happen: getting local power in the North East

17th October 2018

How to get to the world as it should be?  That was the question we vowed to tackle as we kicked off the third of three Civil Society Futures workshops on local decision making in the North East.

What do we want?! Erm…

25th July 2018

One of the key principles within community organising is moving from problem to solution. Working out our asks is a fundamental step to negotiating and bringing about change.

Britain, meet Bolivia: what can social movements learn from each other?

7th February 2018

Bolivia has a deep history of resistance. After over 500 years of colonisation, it continues to be home to the largest and most diverse indigenous population in the continent, with 36 different indigenous peoples officially recorded. At the turn of the millennium movements successfully took on both a multinational corporation and a President – paving … Read more

Funding the Cooperative City – lessons from across Europe

Funding the Cooperative City – lessons from across Europe

22nd January 2018

One of the constant themes we’ve heard during the first year of the inquiry is the need to create places and spaces for people to come together, create and meet others. What’s going on across Europe and what can we learn?



18th November 2018