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Social Investment Forum Uses GRI Guidelines and Practice What They Preach

Social Investment Forum (SIF), the US national nonprofit membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in socially responsible and sustainable investing, announced  that their 2009 annual report was their first which used the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance.  Hopefully this move will encourage more nonprofits to produce sustainability reports.

SIF’s CEO and Chair 2009 Year in Review Letter ended with their announcement that the 2009 annual report inaugurated their use of GRI’s third-generation G-3 Guidelines and met the GRI’s A-level reporting standard.  It reminded the reader that SIF’s proposal to the SEC for mandatory ESG disclosures asked for GRI Reporting, and added “we are proud to demonstrate to companies that we practice what we advocate.”

And practice they should.  Leslie Back‘s recent post on the TriplePundit says it best when she stated, “NGOs cannot demand from corporations what they are not willing to do themselves.”  She also listed three more compelling reasons why non-profits and NGOs should publish sustainability reports.

Non-profits represent a small minority on the Global Reporting Initiative list which is constituted on the basis of report registration formsGRI-checked reportsGRI’s Data Consortium and internet searches.  A look at their 2010 list confirms that there are only 14 non-profits present, none of which reside in the United States.

The natural argument against sustainability reporting for non-profits would likely be that limited funds prohibit them from spending resources needed to conduct such a report, but as Ms. Back pointed out,

“The business case for corporate social responsibility reporting includes metrics for cost savings from efforts in energy efficiency, waste reduction, recycling and more. Making or saving money is a huge motivator for sustainability. Of course, such savings would appeal to non-profits where budgets are fixed and non-negotiable.”

I applaud SIF for practicing what they preach and hope SIF’s annual report appears on the GRI list soon, encouraging other non-profits to pursue sustainability reports.  SIF’s annual report is available for download on their site.

Image Credit:  RambergMediaImages via Flickr under CC license.

Written by Emily DeMasi

Emily McKinin DeMasi is a 2011 MBA/ MA Public Policy candidate and Peace Corps Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her thesis work concerns Corporate Social Responsibility in the United States. She also works as a Research Fellow at Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in downtown Pittsburgh. Emily has worked as an Associate in a Private Equity Placement Firm in NY and as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in Ivory Coast, West Africa. She hopes to combine her business background with her passion for development and inspire others in the fields of Sustainability and CSR.

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