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Group scheme

A way to save money

The Group scheme allows for several organisations to apply collectively - as a Group - for our services and share the costs of the audit. The end result is that the Group as such is certified, independently verified or benchmarked against the CHS.

Similar to the HQAI Facilitation Fund, the Group scheme is an option for local, national or small organisations to financially access our services.

ActionAid Awareness on Protection Haiti
Click on the image to read from ActionAid, the first Group to achieve independent verification, about their experience with the Group scheme.
Feedback given by communities forms a crucial part of the audit process and directly informs the audit findings (= report)

How does the Group scheme work?

Several independent organisations gather under an umbrella organisation (their Group) and join forces in

a) implementing the standard,

b) learning and improving together and

c) being independently assessed.

They establish a Group and set-up a management system to ensure adequate quality control within the Group. Each member is responsible to adhere to the requirements set by the Group, and a managing body (Group Entity) is designed and responsible to regularly check their compliance with the standard.

HQAI conducts audits of the management system of the Group, checks the internal quality control mechanisms implemented by the Group, and audits a sample of members on their application of the standard. As usual, HQAI audits involve document reviews and interviews from the head office to project sites including the voices of people the organisations work with.

All our services (certification, independent verification and benchmarking) are applicable to the Group and the Group decides which service it wants to use.

Step by step to form a group and obtain independent auditing.

Who is it for?

The Group scheme is flexible and can be adapted to different types of organisations, e.g.:

  • An already established network of independent organisations or a selection of members of an existing network, federation, alliance or consortium;
  • Independent organisations that work together in one context, e.g. country, region, cluster, same crisis, geographical area.

Limitations: each independent organisation must not work in more than five countries and the number of Group members should be between 3-20. A certain flexibility is possible and can be discussed with HQAI.

What are the benefits of the Group scheme?

Group members benefit from lower audit costs by distributing the costs of the audit between them, hence, reducing the individual financial burden (economies of scale).

The Group jointly establishes a system to regularly check the compliance of all members with the standard. Ultimately, this leads to a collective learning process in which Group members exchange experience and knowledge on applying and measuring the standard.

The Group members join forces to minimise the individual administrative workload during the audits.

Members of a certified Group can credibly demonstrate to donors and other stakeholders that they have robust mechanisms in place to ensure the quality and accountability of their work.

To summarise, the Group scheme is an effective way to make our audits accessible for all sizes and types of organisations.

Good news: groups are also eligible to apply for subsidies.

Getting there step-by-step

The Group scheme is a not-to-be-missed opportunity and here is how interested organisations get there:

1) Reach out to our Quality Assurance team and get to know the process step-by-step

2) Identify which organisations will be in the Group

3.1) Formally establish the Group and define requirements for Group members according to the selected service: CHS certification, independent verification or benchmarking;

3.2) Set-up the Group Entity and management system, including policies, processes and mechanisms to manage the Group, and monitor members’ compliance with the standard. Get advice from HQAI if needed;

4) Visit the application process website and request the application form. Indicate in the application form if you are interested in receiving a Subsidy;

5) The Quality Assurance team will reach out to you to discuss the next steps

Eager for more technical details? More information on the Group scheme can be found here: POL500 - Quality assurance for groups

Here's more

Contributing to the localisation agenda

The Group scheme is a very practical tool to support the localisation agenda. Offering significant economies of scale by reducing the costs of audits, it facilitates access to CHS audits. Moreover, the scheme creates national capacities (auditing capacity within the group), whilst allowing organisations to benefit from national and international recognition.

Example of ActionAid

16 organisations that are part of ActionAid International (AAI) were the first to accomplish the independent verification process as a Group. The learnings for the Group have been tremendous and will be shared with the entire AAI federation to improve and mainstream best practices, contributing to better quality and accountability. An ActionAid representative mentioned that “the people affected are also more powerful now, especially women leaders that we work with.” HQAI’s final report on the independent verification helped the Group to identify high performance areas and others in which improvements were needed, thus streamlining efforts where they were most needed.

international / Independently verified since 2019
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