The most robust independent audit service
In technical terms certification is the independent and objective assurance that an organisation or a group of organisations meet the requirements specified in the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS), good practices or commitments. A certificate is valid for four years, during which time HQAI systematically assesses the continued conformity with the standard.
In other words: Certification is the most robust independent audit service.
It entails a thorough assessment of the organisation that leads to a pass or fail decision: only when an organisation conforms with the requirements of a standard, it receives the certificate. The audit cycle is four years long and HQAI checks on the organisation at regular intervals. Every audit leads to a new pass or fail decision and HQAI has the possibility to suspend a certificate or even withdraw it if the audit reveals that the organisation does not sufficiently meet all requirements of the standard.
Who is certified?
The benefits for certified organisations are that they develop and implement change for better accountability and practice. They live up to commitments made to communities, partners and donors and obtain external acknowledgment of good practice in accountability and quality management.
The fact that the audit is external and the report goes public shifts the conversation. It gives more power to flag certain mechanisms and processes. Nigel TIMMINS, Oxfam International, October 2019
Trust alone is not enough in today’s world. More is required, namely a system of checks and balances and robust mechanisms of collecting evidence and proof to demonstrate your commitment to accountability towards affected communities. Gerard HOOIVELD, ZOA, April 2020
Have a look at our certified organisations
Certified organisations are permitted to use the HQAI certification mark in their branding. This unique label demonstrates that they comply with the standard (CHS) and it builds trust with stakeholders, including institutional donors, partner organisations and the general public.
Let’s have a closer look at the certification process
The certification audit involves a review of internal and external documents, interviews with staff and partner organisations, discussions with communities and other stakeholders impacted by the organisation's work, and direct observation at selected project sites.
The audit takes place at the organisation’s head office and selected project sites. A decision to certify is made which, if granted, is valid for four years. The summary report is made available, and the certificate and permission to use the certification mark is issued.
Mostly remote. The auditors focus on previous non-conformities (= areas of weakness as identified in the initial audit) and the organisation’s progress towards resolution. Production of a report and, as relevant, a decision is made to maintain, suspend or retrieve the organisation's certification.
The mid-term audit focuses on country programmes and project sites. Production of a report and, as relevant, a decision is made to maintain, suspend or retrieve the organisation's certification.
Mostly remote. The auditors focus on previous non-conformities (= areas of weakness as identified in previous audits) and the organisation’s progress towards resolution. Production of a report and, as relevant, a decision is made to maintain, suspend or retrieve the organisation's certification.
Four years after the certification decision was made, and on request of the organisation, a new certification cycle starts. If the re-certification audit is successful, a new certificate is issued and valid for four years.
"Feedback given by communities forms a crucial part of the audit process. It helps us understand their opinions or the quality and appropriateness of the services they receive. Their input directly informs the audit findings and is reflected in the reports."
Claire GOUDSMIT, senior auditor, November 2019
How much does it cost?
Naturally, independent and objective quality assurance has a cost. The good news is that as a not-for-profit NGO, HQAI aims to make its services accessible to all organisations regardless of their ability to pay: find out more about the Group scheme and check whether your organisation is eligible for subsidies by HQAI’s Subsidy Fund.
The cost of certification depends on many factors and is largely dependent on the size of the organisation. “Size” refers to the number of countries where an organisation runs activities (country programmes).
HQAI will offer a detailed cost plan after the application process and the necessary in-depth analysis of each individual case.
This cost estimator gives an indication on the cost involved for your organisation. Please note however that each organisation is unique and that this tool takes only a few elements into consideration (please note: this quote is in Swiss francs CHF and non-binding).
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