Complaints and Response Mechanisms

Course format
Course length
3 days

This workshop is currently under revision – the revised CRM training offer will be updated soon.


This three-day workshop introduces the key issues in the design, operation and review of an effective complaints & response mechanism appropriate to the context and the organisation’s way of working.

Who should attend?

The workshop is oriented towards organisations that are committed to setting up a complaints and response mechanism, or reviewing their current mechanism. It is aimed at mid-level and senior staff with designated responsibility for designing and implementing complaints and response mechanisms in their programme area. Participants should have basic knowledge of accountability, practical experience of working in humanitarian response or development, and should demonstrate a commitment to protect the people we serve from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Course content

  • Why complaints handling constitutes an essential part of an organisation’s overall work on accountability;
  • The difference between feedback and complaints;
  • Factors that represent barriers to complaining and ways in which these can be addressed;
  • What constitutes an effective complaints and response mechanism which is safe, confidential, transparent and accessible;
  • How to define valid complaints, and the scope and parameters of complaints & response mechanisms;
  • What and how to communicate with potential complainants;
  • Methods for engaging with communities and other stakeholders in developing appropriate complaint-handling systems;
  • Steps in setting up a complaints and response mechanism;
  • Working with partners and other stakeholders on complaints handling.

Pre-workshop assignments and background reading

Participants are asked to read the Core Humanitarian Standard and one other text in preparation for this workshop.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Understand how complaints and response fits into the overall accountability framework and helps to deliver quality services to the beneficiaries;
  • Understand the requirements of an effective complaints mechanism (as per the Core Humanitarian Standard, Commitment 5);
  • Have explored, discussed and analysed a range of factors related to the establishment of effective and trusted complaints and response mechanisms, such as barriers, scope, processes, responses, and dealing with sensitive complaints;
  • Have established the basis for the design of complaints response mechanisms relevant to the contexts in which their organisation operates, including community consultation and working through partners;
  • Have shared and discussed real life examples of complaints and response mechanisms in different organisations and country programmes;
  • Have identified clear action points that can be taken in order to establish a mechanism for handling complaints or strengthen existing complaints handling channels.

Course fees


Swiss Francs (CHF) Full members Associate & non-members
Open workshop (per participant)
Standard rate 1000 1400
Small agency rate* 500 700
Sole-agency workshop (for a maximum of 25 participants)
Rate 10000 14000


The open workshop course fee includes facilitation, course materials, lunch and refreshments during the days of the course, and a course completion certificate. The course fee does not include the cost of overnight accommodation or travel to and from the training venue.

The sole-agency workshop course fee includes facilitation, including travel and accomodation of the facilitation team, small adjustement of the workshop to the requesting organisation’s context, course material and certificate of completion. It does not include venue, lunch and refreshments which must be provided separately by the requesting agency.

*A small agency is one with an annual expenditure of less than 5 million Swiss francs.

Programme guide

Day 1: Introduction to the Core Humanitarian Standard and its commitments; Complaints & accountability; Defining the stakeholders of a complaints and response mechanism; Principles of complaints handling; Barriers to complaining; Entry points to a complaints & response mechanism.

Day 2:  Defining the scope and parameters of a complaints & response mechanism; Steps to developing a complaints & response mechanism; Receiving and dealing with complaints; Sensitive complaints.

Day 3: Designing the procedures for handling complaints; Sharing information about the complaints mechanism; Learning from complaints and feedback; Inter-agency complaints mechanisms and working with partners; Gap analysis/action planning.

Express your interest

to receive an email with registration information as soon as the course is open