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An objective one-time diagnosis

In technical terms benchmarking is a one-time independent and objective diagnosis of the situation of an organisation or a group of organisations with regard to the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS), good practices or commitments.

In other words: HQAI conducts a very thorough complete assessment of where an organisation stands with regards to the standard.

The benchmarking audits is similar to the initial audits which are part of HQAI’s other services (certification, independent verification) and reaches from the head office to project sites, including document reviews, interviews and observation. The report lists strengths and weaknesses of the organisation with regard to the CHS. It is however the responsibility of the organisation to follow-up on these, since the benchmarking mandate is a one-time assessment by HQAI.

During an audit in 2017, Bangladesh.
Taking the time to discuss with communities. A strength of HQAI audits.

Who is benchmarked?

Organisations of different sizes, mandates and regions have used HQAI’s services. They all benefit from objective reports about areas for improvement.


We decided to benchmark against the CHS as we wanted to know our baseline, and make sure we practise what we preach. Charles-Antoine HOFMANN, UNICEF, January 2020

Have a look at the organisations we've benchmarked

A huge experience

First UN body to benefit from an HQAI audit.

2019 / international
ADRA International

We made it!

international / 2017
Plan International Germany

This was a very helpful experience.

HQAI’s different services (see also certification and independent verification) are built on similar principles and processes so that organisations can transfer from one scheme to another if they see value in doing so. Some organisations are thrilled after benchmarking to register for independent verification or certification against the CHS.

Let’s have a closer look at the process of benchmarking

The benchmarking 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.

HQAI conducts the audit at head office and a sample of country programmes. The process ends with the production of a report.

EFICOR, field, 2019
An Indian farmer is getting ready for another busy harvest.

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 Facilitation 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.

Cost estimator

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).

Your next step

These are useful links

Application form

By submitting your application you take a first step to establish a partnership between your organisation and HQAI.

Subsidy Fund

Is your organisation eligible?

Short and crispy e-learning

An entertaining way to review the services HQAI offers, as well as key actors and stages in the audit process.

Media / Videos / by HQAI