Three benefits of due diligence from the perspective of new members
It has been almost a year since twelve new members from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India and Pakistan joined Start Network. As we approach this anniversary, we wanted to understand the value that Start Network membership has brought to these organisations, including the value of our due diligence process. Based on interviews conducted between November and December 2020, here are the three main ways that due diligence has benefitted our new members from their perspectives.
Improved policy and practice
New members said that the due diligence process helped them to identify and improve their organisations’ policies and practices. In some cases, they felt that these improvements also improved their interventions on the ground. For example, after completing the due diligence process, some new members mentioned that they were able to develop improvements in the way they stored data, managed their finances, and were accountable to communities.
“Belonging to Start [Network] is very useful because it has opened us up to others. The due diligence evaluation stimulated us to improve more. We benefitted from the support and recommendations based on the results of the due diligence assessment. The recommendations have enabled us to improve our services in the various interventions that we have in the field, programmatically and financially. Therefore, belonging to Start Network has added great value to what we do.”
Jean Marie Vianney Kanamugire, Caritas Goma, DRC
“I would strongly recommend local organisations to join Start Network for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is important because the due diligence process of Start Network makes the organisations think through their policies and protocols. They end up developing those protocols. It is of great help for the local organisations as it strengthens them."
Jamshaid Farid, Help Foundation, Pakistan
“Start [Network]'s due diligence report accurately reflected our organisation’s compliance infrastructure. When we received the whole format of due diligence, we found it very long and very comprehensive. It was a challenge on our part to complete the due diligence process as it took almost four to five days, but it was a key learning process for us. We were exposed to different mechanisms, different policies, different requirements for finance, Human Resources, and programme management. It was a very comprehensive and transformative process."
Tirtha Prasad Saikia, NEADS, India
"The due diligence report our organisation received from Start Network accurately portrayed our organisation’s compliance infrastructure. We were able to complete our partnership policy which was missing. Also, it helped us in financial guideline for cash-on hand policy which the organisation didn’t possess, and thanks to Start Network that is in process now. We haven’t been able to ensure the safety of electronic data available with the organisation which Start Network wanted. It is potentially the area where we need the help of Start Network to ensure the safety of electronic data.”
Sanjay Pandey, Yuganter, India
Increased partnerships and funding opportunities
New members said that their organisational development, credibility and learning increased after undertaking the due diligence process, supporting them to develop new partnerships and access funding opportunities. In some cases, they said that the due diligence process supported trusting relationships between themselves and donors.
“[The] credibility and visibility of our organisation as a result of becoming a member of Start Network has certainly improved. A general understanding has been developed among the other fellow members of organisations and donors that we have obtained a proper due diligence check after becoming a member of Start Network. Moreover, the donors also believe that we have standardised basic credibility, and the donors don’t have to think twice about our credibility.”
Sanjay Pandey, Yuganter, India
"We know [due diligence has] ... added value, for example on the basis of [due] diligence, we reviewed all our procedures.... due diligence was an organisational analysis like an autopsy which helped us to improve our policies and our management instruments... [These policies] improved our governance which gave us credibility to our partners. For example, during the evaluation of the offers of projects linked to a flooding [project], Handicap International discovered us and asked to join forces with us in the mobilisation of funds by working on an alert."
Eddy Yams, Caritas Goma, DRC
Increased levels of confidence
New members felt that the due diligence process contributed to their confidence. One member stated that their increase in confidence encouraged them to lead other organisations in undertaking humanitarian work. They also shared how the process improved their confidence in their own credibility and procedures.
“Work with Start Network resulted in positive impact on us... We have more self-confidence, we [believe we] are capable of doing something that is worthy. For example, one [of our] national organisation co-partners also have access to tier 2 resources [passed due diligence assessment and have access to tier 2 resources, as opposed to tier 1, 3 or 4 resources], this gave us a lot of confidence as we thought they were very advanced compared to ourselves.”
Naseer Channa, BSDSB, Pakistan
“We are gaining confidence by being a member of Start Network and we are taking leadership positions in some of our work. This helps us to increase our influence and raise issues which we were not confident enough to do before. It is a great learning process and experience. Now we are leading other organisations which is very good and this gives us more importance.”
“We are satisfied with our current position as a member with access to tier 2 resources of Start Network. That means we are confident that we can do what Start Network expects from us.”
Tirtha Prasad Saikia, NEADS, India
Future of due diligence
It is clear that due diligence is an important value addition to Start Network membership. New members have appreciated the lessons they've learned throughout the process, such as how to improve key policies (e.g. data protection) and how to identify gaps.
However, they also suggested some areas for improvement. For example, most new members agreed that they would benefit from more specific training to help them develop their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), policies and practices. Some also said that they would have benefitted from more feedback prior to their assessment, as this would have allowed them to make the changes needed to access higher tiers of funding.
Furthermore, while new members found the due diligence process to be useful, they also found it time consuming. For some, the process took 4-5 days, which was a challenging time commitment. In order to mitigate this, Start Network is developing an online due diligence platform and exploring the possibilities of due diligence passporting.
Due diligence is a work in progress within Start Network and the humanitarian sector more widely. There are still significant challenges in relation to compliance and the feedback we have received reflects these challenges. We are continuing to reflect on questions around risk and accountability, and will continue to iterate on our due diligence model as we continue on this journey.