A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Think you have acceptance? Take the quiz

Now that we have talked about acceptance as part of an NGO security strategy, highlighted a preference for an active approach to acceptance, and noted some contributing factors, it is time for a little quiz.

Simply answer the ten short questions below to see just how well your organization really does at pursuing acceptance. Be honest.

1. Does your organization have an acceptance plan?
a. A what? No, I don’t think so.
b. Yes
c. We don’t need an acceptance plan. We just build houses.

2. Is it written down?
a. No
b. Yes
c. We need a written acceptance plan?

3. Have you read it?
a. No
b. Yes
c. Yes, but it is thirty pages of buzzwords and humanitarian fluff and I still don’t know what my part in all this is.

4. Does your organization have a clear procedure allowing beneficiaries, community members, and staff to raise concerns and complaints at the Country Director level?
a. No
b. Yes
c. We don’t receive any complaints. Everyone loves our work.

5. How long does it take for the complaint originator to get a response?
a. More than a week
b. A week or less
c. We don’t bother responding. They’ll be happy enough once we finish building their new house.

6. Can the drivers, guards, receptionists and cleaners in your organization explain your organizations mandate in their own language?
a. No
b. Yes
c. They are just drivers and cleaners. They don’t need to know that stuff.

7. Do they believe it?
a. No
b. Yes
c. I have no idea.

8. Have all your staff read and understood the personal code of conduct?
a. We don’t have one
b. Yes
c. No

9. Does your organization enforce the personal code of conduct?
a. No
b. Yes
c. Codes of conduct are unrealistic. Corruption is the cost of doing business in countries like this.

10. How did your organization handle the last incident in which a staff member was threatened by beneficiaries, community members, armed groups, or local authorities?
a. We ignored it. It was probably just a one-time thing.
b. We have a good relationship with local power brokers. We’ve discussed the issue with them and they’ve promised to help.
c. Local community leaders don’t live long enough for us to develop a relationship with them and/or nobody dares to be seen talking to us.


For every b. answer give yourself one point. For every c. answer take one point off. An answer of a. scores zero.

10 out of 10 — you probably have a good active acceptance plan. If your organization has an acceptance only security strategy this is the passing mark.

6 to 9 — not too bad. If your organization’s security approach is a mix of acceptance, protection, and deterrence strategies this is a pass.

1 to 5 — your organization has been assuming its acceptance. A lot of work needs to be done.

0 or less — are you sure you are working for a humanitarian organization and not the Marine Corps?

Note: If your organization is an INGO that has an acceptance only security strategy and you are working in Afghanistan, Somalia or Iraq it is an automatic FAIL. You should be looking for a new employer.

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