Certification of CSOs is a major program of AICS. It aims to enhance effectiveness and credibility of civil society organizations in Afghanistan through certifying local organizations against locally defined and internationally recognized standards. AICS certification model, indeed a self regulatory mechanism, is designed to help local CSOs to incorporate best international practices in order to become effective vehicles of social development and address the trust deficit that exists between donors and recipients.
Benefits of certification
CSO certification program brings a number of tangible and intangible benefits to CSO.
- Enhanced Credibility and trust among communities, donors and Govt.
- Increased chances of resource mobilization
- Opportunities to learn and network
- Linkages with Capacity Building organizations
- Increasing Visibility through AICS website and other publications
The certification model has 65 evaluation standards which are divided into five major sections:
- Project Management and Program Delivery
- Financial Management
- Internal Governance and Strategic Planning
- External Relations, Communication and Outreach
- Human Resource
- The CSO expresses interest in AICS certification through a telephonic call, letter or email.
- Certification Unit shares eligibility criterion with the applicant CSO and give 3 days for completion and submission to AICS.
- The CSO that meets eligibility criterion are provided with the application form.
- CSO submits and complete application form along with necessary documents and certification fee.
- Certification team leader assigns the case to a desk officer/certification officer. This officer will be responsible for this case up till a decision on certification is reached.
- The officer writes an acknowledgement letter to the CSO informing that the case has been received by the AICS and will be completed in 2-3 months.
- Initial scrutiny: The officer reviews the application, documents and certification fee submitted by the CSO.
- The officer writes a letter to the CSO informing any missing documents, information or fee. The process begins only after receipt of essential documents and complete certification fee.
- Desk Review: The officer conducts a detailed desk review of the documents submitted by the applicant CSO. The objective is to understand organization’s interventions, practices and procedures after it meets eligibility standards. The Officer performs a detailed study of the documents and prepares a list of questions against each parameter to be asked and documents to be verified during field assessment. There should be a note/comments/question against each evaluation standard in the desk review document.
- The officer completes the desk review in maximum three working days along with financial highlights.
- Financial Illustrations are prepared from the audit reports provided by the CSO. It determines the financial position of the organization and also provides a picture of organization’s financial health and analysis.
- Desk review document, financial highlights and CSO file is submitted with the team leader for a review. The team leader reviews the desk study and financial illustrations and discusses with the officer for further improvement if any.
- This serves as 1st step of internal monitoring system.
- The team leader forms a team of two members for the field visit. The team will comprise of a lead officer and a support officer.
- The team lead will be responsible for writing the assessment report and presenting it to the Certification Committee.
- Field assessment is conducted for two days. During the field evaluation, the program areas are visited and meetings with program staff and beneficiaries are held. The interaction with staff, management and Governing Board members also takes place for obtaining information related with the activities, governance and management of the organization.
- Report writing: After the field evaluation, a report is prepared which determines that if the parameters of the certification model are met by the CSO.
- The assessment report is written according to a specific format.
- Financial Appraisal: A duly qualified finance person will conduct the analysis of the financial statements and accounts to ensure that due process is followed in financial transactions. The Evaluation report includes financial appraisal with clear recommendations in the areas where improvements are required.
- Before travelling to field, the officer will discuss the financial highlights with the finance head at the AICS to develop better understanding of the CSO accounts, facts and figures.
- The officer will submit the assessment report to the certification team lead for review and comments. This serves as 2nd monitoring step of the process.
- Sharing of draft assessment report: Evaluation team shares the draft evaluation report with the concerned organization along with list of recommendations if any; based upon the parameters / standards
- Finalization of assessment Report: Recommendations and changes suggested by the evaluated CSOs are considered and incorporated if they are substantiated by documentary proof. An important aspect of evaluation report is the feedback received from the donors.
- During the evaluation process 2-3 major donors are contacted to seek their feedback on their experiences of working with the applicant CSOs.
- Board Approval: The assessment report is presented to the AICS board which is held on quarterly basis. The board decides whether to certify, defer or not to certify the case. If the case is deferred the CSO is given a period of 3-12 months to implement the recommendations given in the report. In case of not certifying, the CSO will have to apply again after one year if certification is needed.