War Child has gained the trust of the individuals, companies and other organisations that donate money. This trust comes with a responsibility to ensure that the money is spent properly. In 2013, War Child developed its Integrity Policy, which gives War Child staff and third parties clarity about the integrity standards that everyone in the organisation is expected to adhere to.
War Child also organised sessions in each of its country offices and its head office to discuss matters of integrity, such as misconduct, fraud, embezzlement and receiving gifts. Despite War Child’s many policies and measures to ensure the best use of its funds, there is always the risk of a breach in integrity standards, which would have financial implications as well as implications for War Child’s reputation and credibility. War Child reduces the risk of such incidents occurring by:
monitoring compliance to existing anti-fraud measures such as the segregation of duties, the authorisation matrix, and procurement requirements through internal and external audits;
using strict guidelines to assess and select partner organisations;
a new financial system has been put in place in countries, which can be monitored from head office, providing more control over budget management;
conducting thorough background checks for all new employees before they are hired, and;
continuously making staff, implementing partners and suppliers aware of the Integrity Policy, not only by having them sign it, but also by organising discussions about relevant themes.
Three incidents of alleged fraud were reported in 2013. These reports were sent to our management team at head office, who informed our external auditor. All three cases were locally investigated by independent external parties. One was verified and the employee involved was dismissed. The financial impact of this fraud was not material. No evidence of fraud was found by our lawyer or auditor in the other two cases (one for which the accusation was later withdrawn, and one involving an anonymous email). Detection, awareness and anti-fraud measures, including the incident-reporting process, have been strengthened in 2013.
War Child’s authorisation matrix outlines the mandate of managers in head office and country offices. In 2013, War Child developed and rolled out a new authorisation matrix, one of our main instruments for internal control. War Child’s planning and control cycle consists of monthly checks and balances as well as quarterly budget revisions. The quarterly results and budget revisions are discussed in Supervisory Board meetings.
War Child’s minimum standards provide a minimum quality framework for adherence across the organisation. In addition, the standards provide clarity on ‘who does what’ and fill the gap of previously missing checks and balances between countries and head office. All head office departments and country offices report their compliance to the minimum standards to the management team bi-annually.
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