Travel Recap: Kevin, Martha, and a New Due Diligence Assessment Standard

NGOsource's general manager, Kevin Ryan, and its chief counsel, Martha Lackritz-Peltier, had a busy October. Speaking and participating at venues around the globe, they promoted their work on a uniform due diligence assessment tool for the humanitarian sector.

Building off NGOsource's successful model of streamlined due diligence, NGOsource spent the last year and a half crafting and honing a comprehensive NGO assessment standard for the humanitarian sector. The team's vision is to turn the current model of grantee due diligence on its head. Rather than it being an onerous and duplicative exercise solely serving donors and banks, they envision due diligence as an empowering tool for NGOs to self-assess, learn, and demonstrate their unique capabilities.

A single uniform standard could be "passported" between donors, banks, and other agencies to reduce the total time spent by NGOs on meeting such requirements.  Due diligence work is currently estimated to take as many as 600 hours per year, per humanitarian NGO. The assessment standard is furthermore built to be used as a means to connect NGOs to the resources they need through tailored assessments and a unified ecosystem of organizational strengthening resources.

The NGOsource team is conducting this work in partnership with the Start Network, a UK charity and network of 41 global humanitarian NGOs. The due diligence assessment tool that the team created is the result of months of research, followed by multiple donor and NGO reviews, as well as an independent international auditor's assessment. The auditor found that it "meets generally accepted due diligence standards within the humanitarian sector" and is "fit for purpose."

Spreading the Word Around the World

Martha, Kevin, Caroline Burrage of TechSoup, and Vincent Henson of the Start Network present on a roundtable discussion at the World Humanitarian Action Forum in October

Kevin and Martha participated in the Start Network's assembly in Doha, after which they spoke on a panel at the World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF) in Istanbul. Both events addressed meeting the Grand Bargain commitments set forth in 2016 by a group of the world's largest donors and humanitarian organizations. The due diligence tool the team has created is intended to accelerate localization of aid. Martha and Kevin spoke to policy and technology solutions that NGOsource and the Start Network are putting in place to increase access and opportunity.

The theme for WHAF 2019 was "Dignity in Humanity," which was explored through four primary topics: Finance, Localization, Conflicts, and Resilience. Kevin and Martha spoke with others on the Finance panel addressing their work developing NGO-centric due diligence tools. They discussed using due diligence as a means to streamline NGO compliance and help NGOs evidence their ability to steward funds in a risk-averse political climate.

WHAF 2019 was a sold-out event, with a long waitlist of attendees. Other speakers at the conference included the president of the Turkish Red Crescent, the head of governance of Islamic Relief Worldwide, the vice president of IFRC Europe, and the deputy foreign minister of Turkey, among others. All sessions were accompanied with live interpreters in Turkish, Arabic, and English (via headsets).

Martha and Kevin subsequently followed up their Middle East travels with meetings in London to set up the assessment standard for its next phase.

Stay tuned for more updates about this exciting work that we expect to multiply the success of the NGOsource model on a global scale!

Top photo: NGOsource's Martha Lackritz-Peltier and Kevin Ryan with TechSoup's Caroline Burrage at the World Humanitarian Action Forum