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Christian Children’s Fund Helps Set New Standard in Accountability

Five International Humanitarian Organizations Awarded First Certification for Child Sponsorship Programs

Christian Children’s Fund is among five leading children's charities that are raising the bar of accountability for nonprofits by inviting a third-party audit of their compliance against established standards for child sponsorship programs.

The five organizations — Christian Children's Fund, Children International, Plan USA, Save the Children and World Vision — have now been certified. All five agencies are members of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations.

The certification process was conducted through an independent audit of the organizations compliance with InterAction’s Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Standards for good governance and reliable delivery of services to children, families and communities worldwide.

“Christian Children’s Fund has always stressed the importance of meeting stringent program standards in delivering programs and services to the children and families in the countries where we work,” says John F. Schultz, President of CCF.  “We believe the third party review and resulting certification gives further evidence to our donors of the high quality of CCF’s programs.”

In 1998, the five organizations developed guidelines for their work in child sponsorship programs that were adopted by InterAction into its PVO Standards. The agencies then launched a pilot certification initiative, using a private, independent accrediting agency, Social Accountability International (SAI), which is best known for its SA8000 labor standards audits around the world

Under the direction of SAI, the groups underwent external, third party audits to ensure the quality of the agencies' compliance with InterAction standards. This project used robust, multi-stakeholder processes to verify compliance with industry-developed standards. The certification system, launched in October 2004, was based on the learning and best practices used in social auditing worldwide. The process included site visits, both at these agencies' respective U.S. headquarters and at a sampling of field offices in other countries.

The certification audits were conducted by two accredited members of the SAI auditing pool, Cal Safety Compliance Corporation in California and Intertek Testing Services in New Jersey. According to SAI, this is the first time a group of international NGOs has undergone accredited certification of compliance to a set of standards by a third party.

In 1992, Interaction members developed and adopted PVO Standards, containing key requirements for good governance and reliable service delivery. Since then, members have been required to undergo an annual self-certification of adherence to the standards. InterAction remains among the very few standards-based networks of NGOs.