Overcoming the Cost Barrier, How the HQAI Subsidy Fund Increases National NGO Access to Audit Services

28 May 2019
Pierre Hauselmann

by Pierre Hauselmann

Executive Director HQAI

“HQAI’s Subsidy Fund has already allowed seven national organisations to become independently verified or certified. I believe it is a great opportunity for organisations to improve and build trust. We invite all CHS Alliance national members to look into their eligibility for a subsidy.

Pierre Hauselmann, Executive Director HQAI

The uptake of the Core Humanitarian Standard since its creation in 2014 is steadily on the rise. This is true for organisations, but also for governments and donors who increasingly consider demonstrated adherence to the CHS an important trust building element with their partners.

The CHS Alliance and HQAI collaborate to increase the uptake of verification against the CHS with the aim to improve the quality and accountability of aid to people. CHS Alliance’s members are at the forefront of this endeavour.

Overcoming the cost barrier

HQAI aims at making its services accessible to a large variety of national and international organisations. The cost factor, however, might be a barrier to some of them.

HQAI has therefore established a Subsidy Fund to facilitate access to our audit services to organisations in countries affected by crises or disasters. Managed by an independent Committee, the fund can cover up to 90% of the cost of an audit.

This commitment is due to our firm believe that third-party quality assurance benefits the organisation, the sector and – above all – the affected populations.

An opportunity for CHS Alliance members

Third-party quality assurance covers two of the four verification options, namely Independent Verification and Certification. This provides valuable information on an organisation’s strengths and on areas for improvement against the CHS.

In 2017 and 2018 alone HQAI’s Subsidy Fund granted CHF 183,000 to seven national organisations in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, South Sudan, Turkey, Uganda.

In a sector that offers so much diversity, both national and international organisations can apply for a subsidy. However, support is attributed in priority to:

•  National NGOs that directly assist people affected by crisis in their own country;

•  National NGOs working nationally through partners that assist people affected by crisis in their own country;

•  International NGOs (that have activities in at least one country outside their home country), the priority level diminishing in proportion to the number of countries where they operate.

Strengthening local response

The services provided by HQAI aim in particular to strengthen NGOs in developing countries. Independent audits by HQAI contributes in two ways to their reinforcement:

a. By strengthening organisational learning processes. The certification or verification process allows for clear identification of their strengths and weaknesses by an external body. It is therefore a valuable tool to help make improvements within a reasonable timeframe. The testimonies received and the dialogue that HQAI maintains with its audited partners (feedback sessions, thematic newsletters, learning events) attest to the importance of this contribution.

b. By providing assurance to donors that local responders work to the CHS, which is considered to be an important trust-building element with their partners. This is clearly supportive of the Grand Bargain commitments to provide more support for local and national responders

We invite all CHS Alliance national members to look into their eligibility for a subsidy. To learn more, visit: