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This month: Resources to help us understand and prevent corruption in our misson/aid settings.

Member Care Associates
Resources for Good Practice: Update April 2012
Member Care for Mission/Humanitarian Assistance




Confronting Corruption—Safeguards for Staff and Senders
Stay updated with key member care resources for your work in mission/aid.
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(click here for pdf version)
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Corruption is both endemic and epidemic in the world, cutting across sectors and affecting us all. It is sadly very much present in the mission/aid and member care community, often unrecognized, often ignored, and often devastating. Transparency International defines corruption as “The abuse of entrusted power for personal gain.” This involves far more than financial wrongdoing and includes sexual harassment, retaliation, nepotism, devious management, etc. These actions negatively impact the wellbeing and effectiveness of staff, not to mention the functioning and reputation of senders.
 
This expanded issue of the Update includes 10 essential resources to help us understand, prevent, and deal with corruption. We highlight key materials with representative quotes from the Christian community and the humanitarian/business sectors. One caveat to really take to heart: We are far more naïve about corruption—and our own capacity for self-deception—than we care to admit. Further, resources to deal with corruption are only as effective as the integrity and skill of the people who use them. We encourage us all to review these materials with colleagues and to apply them in our settings.
 
Warm greetings from Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell—Member Care Associates
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 Like a trampled spring and a polluted well
so are the righteous who give way before the wicked.
(Proverbs 25:26)

 
Take time to watch Dr. Phil Zimbardo’s TED Talk (22 minutes) online:
The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Become Evil

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Resource One: Christian Community
Salt and Light: Christians’ Role in Confronting Corruption by Batchelor and Osei-Mensah (Lausanne Global Conversation, 31 October 2011). “What part does corruption play in your life?...Our assertion in this paper is that, whether we recognize it or not, we are all caught up in one form or another of corruption or its consequences and, as Evangelical Christians, we need to do more to prepare and engage in the fight against it….There are seven widely-recognised principles or approaches that we see governments, regulators and organisations using to tackle these problems:  
  • A focus on Ethical codes / policies / guidance
  • Insistence on clear roles and responsibilities
  • Effective Anti-corruption Training and Education
  • Distinctive “Tone from the Top” – leading by example and communication
  • Evidence of Discipline / Sanctions
  • The core operation: Investigation / whistle blowing / controls
  •  Attention to Audit and Governance.”

Policy on Suspected Misconduct, Dishonesty, Fraud, and Whistle-Blower Protection by Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (Note: accessible to ECFA members/subscribers; also included in Global Member Care (2011, pp. 122-124). “Recent scandals in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds have highlighted the importance of integrity within an organization. Fraud prevention has recently been addressed in new legislation and accounting standards. This new level of fraud awareness applies to nonprofit organizations just as much as it does to for-profit organizations, and it is therefore important that nonprofit organizations establish a means for employees to report concerns about misconduct, dishonesty, or fraud. Such a reporting structure should be recorded and communicated to employees in a written policy on suspected misconduct, dishonesty, and fraud.”

Revisiting the Toxic Mission Organisation—Fiction or Fact?  by Rob Hay (Encounters Mission Journal, January 2012; this article is in the special issue “Global Leadership in an Age of Unknowing”)
 
Corruption-Free Churches are Possible: Experiences, Values, Solutions by Christoph Stückelberger (Globethics, 2010, online book for free).
 
PETRA People is a website listing materials on corruption from many sectors yet oriented for the Christian community. A special emphasis is on the current Nordic Capital Investment KB fraud (NCI) and its impact on the Christian community. The Quick Overview on the home page links to core docs. See also the PETRA People weblog for NCI updates and analyses.

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Resource Two: Humanitarian and Business Sectors

 Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Assistance (Final Research Report, Transparency International et al, July 2008). “…humanitarian agencies have become more aware of the risks of corruption and have taken many steps to deal with these risks. However, there are remaining gaps that could be addressed both by better sharing of good practices within the humanitarian community, and by looking to good examples from outside of it. Also, many of the mechanisms agencies use to track and control normal financial and human resource procedures along with program quality mechanisms can be used to mitigate the risk of corruption and counter its effects. Agencies have put in place specific mechanisms to mitigate corruption risks, most notably “whistleblower” programs and strengthened internal audit functions. However, findings here suggest that the former are better known in headquarters than in field operations. These findings also suggest that many humanitarian workers have a narrow view of what constitutes corruption, seeing it primarily as a financial issue, rather than abuse of power [bold added].This report makes a series of recommendations…to increase discussion of corruption issues, develop improved systems to mitigate risk and better ensure its detection.” (p. 2) (photo courtesy IRIN (c) 2005, Balakot, Pakistan earthquake)
 
Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor by Bennis, Goleman, O’Toole, and Biederman (2008). "But at any time an organization makes a seriously wrong decision, its leaders should call for an intensive postmortem. Such learning opportunities are too often overlooked. The tendency is simply to call on the public relations department to spin the mater, to make another inadequately thought-out decision, and perhaps to scapegoat, even fire, a few staff members. Because most companies cover up their mistakes instead of learning from them, systemic flaws in information flow tend to remain to do their damage another day." (pp. 22-23) More quotes: click here.
 
Fleecing the Flock: The Big Business of Swindling People Who Trust You Economist, 28 January 2012. Note—This is another excellent, brief article and warning about affinity fraud.
 
Need and Greed Corruption Risks, Perceptions, and Prevention in Humanitarian Assistance Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, UK (September 2008, seven pages)
 
Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work by Babiak and Hare (2006).”Psychopaths may enter as rising stars…but all too soon they’re…leaving the workplace in shambles” (back cover). This book is as superb as it is sobering!
 

Final Perspective
"Unquestionably, our greatest challenge is not the fictions of totalitarian tyrannies or of Western consumer fantasies. It comes from the rationalizations of our own minds, the fictions of our own imaginations, and the deceptions of our own hearts. "Living in truth" is a prerequisite of personal integrity before it is one of public life. All of us who do not wish to be exposed some day [e.g., the way David the king was exposed by Nathan the prophet ] should live by submitting ourselves  to truth every day. The way of faith turns the way of the world upside down. Instead of concealing our worst and revealing our best, we are called to do the reverse. After all, as Jesus taught and modern psychology underscores, we are our secrets, not our [public relations]. It is truth in the hidden life that counts." Os Guinness, Foreword to You Are the Man (excerpts from Peter Berger) 1992

 

Copyright © 2012 Member Care Associates, Inc.

Archived in pdf on the Member Caravan website:
The resources in these Updates are chosen to encourage us as learners-practitioners who are committed to cross cultures, discipliines, and sectors for good practice.