NGO Risk Review Phase 2 – Consultancy

InterAction Published: October 6, 2017
Washington, D.C.
Post Type
Experience (minimum)
Not specified
Education (minimum)
Not specified
Travel Required?
Not specified


InterAction Project

Risk Review -- Phase 2

Risk Management and Transferance between INGOs and Local Partners

Terms of Reference

October 6, 2017

This call for proposals solicits applications to conduct an evidence synthesis on risk factors for international NGOs in partnerships with local partners (i.e. local NGOs) in complex humanitarian settings. The parameters of this research include examining how risk is allocated and managed, how organizations define and transfer risk, the determinants of effective risk management, and what factors affect a INGOs and local actors risk tolerance in partnerships. The study includes two components: the first is expected to include reviewing policies, conducting interviews and surveying remotely; the second component will include undertaking field research jointly with InterAction teams.


Localization is increasingly acknowledged as an appropriate, effective and sustainable channel for humanitarian delivery. Amidst the call for increasing direct access to local actors to humanitarian financing, there is a parallel need to ensure that local partnerships include shared analysis and capacity frameworks that enable the best possible delivery of aid. INGOs are responding to crises in multiple large-scale  and protracted complex settings as well as unprecedented looming famines in four countries. Responding to these crises requires higher risk thresholds and increasingly, the use of remote management modalities through local partners. International organizations are simultaneously under pressure to expand and strengthen partnerships to fulfill the localization commitments outlined in the Charter for Change and echoed in the World Humanitarian Summit outcomes and the Grand Bargain.

To meet these commitments, INGOs must continue to ensure the viability and integrity of humanitarian programming while also ensuring that local partnership arrangements include the necessary risk management capacity support that enables safe and effective humanitarian delivery. Additionally, due to the wide array of risks associated with frontline responses in complex and protracted conflict-driven emergencies, NGOs are adapting to increasing legal and regulatory pressures to better manage risks associated with humanitarian action in such settings.


This project aims to improve INGO risk management practices with local partners in conflict and complex emergencies through an improved understanding of where real and perceived risks align or diverge, as well as obstacles and enablers in partnership risk management and mitigation frameworks. The consultant’s contribution to this study will support InterAction and its members in developing a better understanding of, and facilitate improvements in NGO partnership risk management structures. The project will aim to build a shared understanding of risk between INGOs and their local counterparts.

Three primary overarching questions will guide the research:

  • How do organizations interpret, differentiate and manage the different aspects of risk within humanitarian programs implemented with local NGOs and/or other partners?
  • How do organizations define and transfer risk? Are there specific types of risk that are transferred to local partners and other risks that are retained? How is risk retention/transfer determined and managed?
  • What types of risk response strategies do organizations maintain for local partner arrangements?

Within these overaching questions are several subsets of questions that will be further examined, including through field research jointly with InterAction. These may include:

  • How, and by whom, is risk assessment and analysis conducted with local partners? Where does decision-making authority sit with regards to partnerships and risk?
  • What roles do donors and their requirements play in determining a local partner’s risk tolerance? Are donors more conservative with local or international partners and what factors determine varying degrees of acceptable risk?
  • What risks (if any) are acceptable at the organizational and/or country levels when delivering humanitarian assistance?
  • How are staff within institutions engaged in risk management with local partners?


Activity 1: Identify what risk factors have the greatest impact on humanitarian effectiveness in relation to INGOs partnerships with local actors, especially in conflict and complex crises. Based on research findings, identify different methods to manage and mitigate risk factors in partnerships.

  • Jointly with InterAction and study participants, develop criteria for identification of local partners to be reviewed, and engagement strategies to ensure streamlined and consistent communications; work with InterAction to develop tactics for engaging study participants and gain access to local partners in collaboration with participating NGOs;
  • Desk research to define key external risks for humanitarian NGOs in their partnerships with local partners, including internal organizational risk management policies and procedures related to partnership arrangements, country level analysis and risk profiling;
  • Desk review of key policies of local partners (i.e. local NGOs) related to internal organizational risk mangement and procedures and a comparative analysis of these policies and procedures with Phase 1 research desk review findings;[1]
  • Survey to gather input from participating international and local partners field and HQ staff on their interpretation of identified risks in partnership arrangements and their understanding of their indpendent organizational and shared response to risk;
  • Interviews with key stakeholders, including senior management of both INGOs and their local partners on the parameters of organizational risk analysis, tolerance and decision-making process in relation to partnership arrangements;
  • Distillation of input and presentation during a workshop with InterAction and the NGO participant focal points and local partner study participants, working with InterAction to ensure best approach to share research findings with local partners and INGO participants;
  • Preparing reports detailing research findings and analysis. Work with InterAction to determine needs for interim research summary as well as final reports.

Activity 2: Develop a stronger analysis of the various dimensions of risk and risk management methods in local partnerships, including how it is and is not accomodated financially, recommendations on what actions can be taken to decrease risk, and case examples on effective methods that can be taken to scale or applied to other contexts where relevant.

  • Jointly, with InterAction’s project lead, conduct at least three field missions – approximately 2 weeks long each – to generate context-specific data. Support InterAction in the identification of possible case studies detailing practice related to local partnership management. InterAction will be the lead writer on these case studies with the consultant providing inputs based on preliminary desk review findings, working with the lead by writing assigned sections of the report, and acting as a reviewer of the case studies.
  • Based on findings from the field missions, case study development, and desk review, develop clear recommendations for improved risk mitigation practices with local partners.
  • Jointly, with InterAction, brief local NGOs and internatonal NGO study participants on preliminary research findings during field visits and final study findings upon completion of the research.

Activity 3: Produce a good practice training guide on effective risk management practices for local partnerships in high-risk environments.

  • Based on desk and field research findings, develop a good practice training guide on effective risk management practices for local partnerships in high risk environments. The focus of this guidance will be informed by the partner risk management gap analysis conducted in the desk review and complemented through context-specific findings from field research. The guidance is intended to help international and local partners jointly make sense of risk management in partnerships.

Expected Deliverables

  • Provide regular, as needed (estimated monthly) check-ins with InterAction on project progress including methods and research design, interview targets and data collection. (Ongoing)
  • Interim report that identifies key internal and external risks in local partnership arrangements and details draft findings of gap analysis (including policy and stuctures gaps) and how risk is managed between INGOs and local partners. (Qtr. 1, 2018)
  • Work with InterAction to run an interim findings workshop/coordination meeting in the lead up to field research to ensure that field research deisgn includes inputs from INGOs and local NGO study participants, and takes into consideraiton context-specific challenges and variables. This workshop should also include a briefing on interim study findings. (Qtr. 1, 2018)
  • Serve as a contributor and reviewer of three field-based case studies on risk management in partnerships in complex settings. Primary authorship for these case studies will rest with InterAction. Case studies will be released intermittently throughout the course of the research following field missions. These case studies should be incorporated for synthesis and analysis in the consultant’s final report.[2] (Qtr. 2-4)
  • A training module on good practices in risk management in local partnerships in high risk environments. This should include a framework for improved and more dynamic shared risk assessment and management between INGOs and local actors. (Qrt 4, 2018)
  • Recommendations, drawn from the desk review, interviews, field research and workshops for improved risk mitgation practices in partnership arrangements with local partners. (Qtr. 4, 2018)
  • Final report detailing overall analysis of findings and including recommendations, drawn from the desk review, interviews and field research for improved risk management practices in partnership arrangements with local actors. The final report should provide an analysis of findings, insights on how risk transfer is or is not managed effectively, and recommendations for improved and more transparent risk sharing. This should also include an identification of which risk factors (both up- and downstream) have the greatest impact on humanitairan effectivesness in local partnerships. (Qtr 1, 2019)
  • Provide joint briefings with InterAction in US and Europe on study findings etc. as well as 1-3 remote webinar briefings. (Qtr. 1, 2019)

Roles and Responsibilities

  • The consultant will be responsible for gathering data and the analysis and synthesis of the intial desk review research, and producing final and interim study reports.
  • The consultant will be responsible for producing  the best practice guidance on managing risk in partnerships. The consultant will develop this guidance with input from InterAction and study participants and through various convening mechanisms, supported by InterAction, to ensure that the research is representative of the experiences of INGOs and their partners across contexts.
  • The consultant will accompany InterAction on field missions where it will support with data collection for three case studies. The field visits will also include data collection to support the primary research of the consultant outlined above.
  • The consultant will work with InterAction to determine appropriate feedback loops for sharing research findings to ensure that all levels of study participants are included. Jointly present report synethsis and findings with InterAction in venues determined by InterAction and study participants.
  • InterAction will support the consultant’s work through liaising with field teams as needed, ensuring access to a diverse array of stakeholders for data collection, and convening feedback sessions on research findings, recommendations and best practice guidance.


Consultants must be available for travel. Consultants will be included in InterAction accomodations and within InterAction arrangements for all field travel (including security). As per current practice, this is likely to be provided by arrangement with a participating NGO.


The consultancy is expected to commence mid-to-late October 2017. The final reports and products are expected to be completed by December 2018. Briefings and report dissemination is expected to take place in the first half of 2019.


The successful implementation of this consultancy requires a team of individuals with substantial operational and management expertise in the NGO sector and the humanitarian field. Experience implementing programming in the field at a senior management level is desirable. Extensive knowledge of different operational risks (financial, fiduciary, legal, reputational, operational and security) as well as risk mitigation and program criticality approaches is also essential. Experience in designing, managing, overseeing or evaluating programs delivered through remote management frameworks and via partnership arrangements with local actors and local NGOs is critical. The consultants must have demonstrated capacities to lead and effectively facilitate discussions with a diverse constituency with varied interests and perspectives. The team leader must have prior experience presenting to senior-level NGO and donor representatives.


Applicants should submit a detailed staffing plan and budget for review. InterAction will bear the costs of travel required, though applications should note what travel is anticipated within the proposed methodology and timeline. Timeline should not exceed 16 months from the inception date of the project.

To Apply

Applications must be submitted no later than October 20. Applications must include CVs of team members, a two-page outline of a proposed methodology for undertaking the consultancy, and a detailed budget and timeline for activities.

Applications will be reviewed based on:

  • Key compentencies and staff composition;
  • Management, including the timetable for deliverables;
  • Quality of technical proposal; and,
  • Budget, ensuring value for money

Applications should be submitted to with “Risk Review Phase 2 Consultancy Proposal” as the subject line.


[1] Stoddard, A., Haver, K., & Czwarno, M. (2016). NGOs and Risk: How international humanitarian actors manage uncertainty. Humanitarian Outcomes and InterAction

[2] Input and contributions of the consultants will be recognized in the final case studies.

To apply for this job, please login to NGO Job Board.

Related Jobs