Independent Review of Individual Donor Assessments in Humanitarian Operations - December 2020
The Grand Bargain commitment 4.5 specifically seeks to increase “the proportion of funding used for the direct benefit of affected people.” Toward this end, Signatories agreed to “reduce individual donor assessments.” This report summarizes the results of an independent review that collected evidence on and analyzed the effects of donor assessments conducted between 2016 and 2019 across five humanitarian organizations: OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and the ICRC (hereafter referred to as “agencies”). Assessments conducted or commissioned by donors include: 1) financial audits and verifications; 2) assessments and reviews of governance structures, systems and processes as well as comprehensive performance assessments; and 3) programmatic evaluations and monitoring exercises.
The report analyzes trends in the volume of formal assessments, captures practices around informal assessments, investigates whether there were overlaps between assessments, and explores why donors choose to conduct so many different assessments in the first place. Moreover, the report evaluates how assessments have affected the humanitarian work carried out by different agencies and their cooperating partners. The independent review aims to inform donors and agencies about the progress that has been made when it comes to reducing the number of individual donor assessments and formulates recommendations to help meet Grand Bargain commitment number 4.5.
Some of the main findings include:
- The volume of donor assessments has more than doubled since 2016.
- Joint donor assessments remain the exception and are unlikely to increase.
- A number of reasons drive donors to conduct (more) assessments.
- Donor assessments increase administrative costs, but they also offer opportunities for learning and change.
- Secondary effects of donor assessments on agencies’ downstream partners are largely untraceable.