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Photo: April Pethybridge, Unsplash

18 things we're proud of achieving this year

18 December 2018

We've been very busy at Bond this year, strengthening capacity in the sector, advocating for international development and working with our 420 members to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.

Our areas of work have been as varied as transforming safeguarding standards, cracking down on tax havens, analysing the latest funding trends and even designing a brand new, futuristic NGO.

Here are eighteen of the things we were most proud of from 2018:

1: We advocated for the safe travel of aid workers

In early December, the House of Lords was set to pass a bill, the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which would have severely restricted NGOs’ ability to operate in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Under the bill, NGO staff could face police questioning and possible arrest if they travelled to one of the areas designated by the UK government. Following a call from chief executives of 22 NGOs, coordinated by Bond, peers introduced an exemption for aid workers, journalists and others who have a legitimate reason to travel to designated areas.

2: We led action to transform safeguarding across the sector 

Since the media broke revelations of sexual misconduct by NGO staff in February, we have worked with our members to improve safeguarding policies and practices, building on the best examples from the aid and UK domestic sector. We set up four working groups to drive better practice and build the sector’s safeguarding capability, with each group comprising Bond members, DFID, the Charity Commission, and supported by a panel of academics and specialists. We also hosted a Safeguarding for Development event in August to provide 200 members with the latest insights on key areas of safeguarding, including the employment cycle, reporting and accountability.

3: We committed as a sector to preventing sexual exploitation and abuse

These activities culminated in our commitment to change in safeguarding, a pledge document demonstrating how the NGO sector will drive forwards consistency and leadership on safeguarding so we all reach the same standards and work together to protect people from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. DFID hosted an international summit to tackle sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the aid sector on 18 October. We represented our wider membership at the event and presented the NGO sector’s commitments to change in safeguarding. In November, a new principle around safeguarding was incorporated into the Bond Charter, requiring all members to ensure consistency and high quality in their safeguarding practices. 

4: We convened MPs to support the SDGs

Over 30 parliamentarians attended a special event in the Houses of Parliament in November, co-hosted by Bond, the Coalition for Global Prosperity and Project Everyone. With the UK’s Voluntary National Review coming up next year, the event provided MPs with information and guidance so that they can better champion the SDGs.

5: We launched our podcast

The Bondcast brings together voices from across the sector to explore the debates in international development. The first episode looked at negative media stories’ impact on public perceptions of NGOs. The second episode explored blockchain in international development and the third episode looks at leading from the global south. 

6: We secured guarantees for NGOs after Brexit 

We have been working with members and DFID to ensure UK NGOs retain access to European Commission funds post-Brexit, as well as working on the terms for future UK-EU development cooperation. We also worked with DFID to build an understanding of the potential funding ramifications of Brexit on UK NGOs in the event of a “no deal”, particularly around NGOs potentially having their funding halted, which resulted in the secretary of state committing to underwriting existing NGO contracts and challenging the EU for inserting such disclaimers in contracts. There was also confirmation that, like all OECD member countries, UK organisations will continue to be able to apply for funds from the EU’s development cooperation funding instrument following Brexit.

7: We advocated for greater cost transparency 

After three years of advocating for greater transparency from both DFID and CSOs about the true costs associated with development programming, Bond celebrated a huge leap forward in October when DFID finally announced its new approach to cost transparency. DFID’s new policy, guidance and templates now reflect the true cost to deliver a development programme without supplementary.

8: We held our biggest yet Bond Conference and Awards

February’s Bond Annual Conference and Awards attracted the largest numbers of delegates we’ve ever seen, with over a thousand people from NGOs, government, funders and the private sector. We also celebrated even more NGO success with eight categories in our awards, up from five.

9: We got the government to crack down on tax havens

In May, a cross-party group of senior MPs agreed to finally ensure that the UK’s Overseas Territories (OTs) adopt the same level of transparency as the rest of the UK by 2021. Tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands, cost developing countries at least $100 billion a year in lost money and the secrecy enables corruption to thrive. An amendment agreed by MPs means that owners of companies registered in the OTs will have to publish their names in open registers. The amendment came after years of NGOs working together to produce top quality research and sector lobbying to achieve change. 

10: We experimented with the NGO of the future 

We felt it was time to deploy a new tactic to help development leaders imagine alternative futures and possibilities for international development. By creating an organisation "from the future" that people could experience and interact with, we wanted to provide a bridge from thinking about abstract trends to understanding concrete implications for today. This fictional organisation was presented at the Bond Conference and provoked a mix of reactions. 

11: We challenged the aid in the national interest narrative 

Back in January we gave evidence to the International Development Select Committee on the definition and administration of Official Development Assistance (ODA). We welcomed the IDC’s recommendations, which said that reducing poverty should be at the heart of aid and that all ODA spending should be subject to the same levels of transparency and scrutiny as aid spent by DFID. We have concerns around the accountability of aid spending by other government departments, and have been campaigning on this area and will continue to do so.

12: We turned 25 

In June Bond celebrated 25 years. We looked back at what has happened in international development since 1993 and spoke to those involved in the organisation over the years.

13: We got politicians talking about development 

Despite a focus on Brexit across party conference season, we championed international development issues to politicians from the Conservatives, Labour and SNP. We packed out a room of 120 people at the Bond drinks reception at the Conservative Party Conference, which included speeches from Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Lefroy and Andrew Mitchell. Our annual drinks reception at the Labour Conference featured speeches from MPs Stephen Doughty, Stephen Twigg, and the shadow minister, Dan Carden. We also launched our aid in brief for MPs

14: We explored funding trends and challenges 

Over 200 people joined us in October for our second Funding for Development Conference. NGOs, donors, government representatives and corporates came together to discuss the latest trends and challenges in institutional funding, public fundraising and partnerships. We also launched our latest report on financial trends for UK-based INGOs, which analyses the incomes of over 300 members to help you develop your fundraising strategies. 

15: We extended our capacity building work through new partnerships 

We formed new partnerships to better support CSO to build their organisational capacities. By partnering with Humentum, we now deliver a range of training across the US and UK. This includes our online IATI course and our DFID Commercial Contracting courses. We also partnered with CASS Business School to develop a new course of organisational models for CSO leaders.

16: Our working groups held 100 meetings

The 44 Bond groups, comprised of 3009 people from our member organisations, met to drive best practice in their areas of work, share insights or undertake joint advocacy. Some key examples of the groups’ activities include the work of the SDGs Group on the UK’s progress on the SDGs internationally, the work of the Sport for Development Group’s in mainstreaming sport into programming, and this paper by the Feedback and Accountability Learning Group on building trust through feedback. We also launched two new groups, one on ethical imagery and another on impact investing. 

17: Our group drove disability inclusion 

The Disability and Development Group has been hard at work this year. The group inputted into the Global Disability Summit held in July, helping shape the commitments agreed and hosting a parliamentary reception before the event. The group has also been working closely with DFID on the department’s new Disability Strategy, which was launched in December.

18: We worked with networks to drive global collaboration 

We facilitated a workshop at the Forus Annual Meeting in Chile for leaders of national platforms to share learning about the challenges they face. We were active on the Forus Council, helping to strengthen peer-to-peer capacity exchanges between platforms. We were also elected to the board of Concord, an important forum to ensure that the UK continues to have an active voice in European civil society, including after Brexit.