2017 UNHCR-NGO Partnership Survey - General Report

Executive Summary

In order to better understand partnership dynamics and develop a body of evidence on perceptions of UNHCRNGO partnership, since 2014 UNHCR’s Implementing Partner Management Service (IPMS) alongside HIAS, and, in 2017, InterAction, have been systematically soliciting UNHCR and partner feedback via an annual survey on the state of UNHCR-NGO partnership working together for refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers whom, collectively, we refer to as “persons of concern.” Separate and nearly identical surveys were sent to UNHCR Country offices and to NGOS, via prior year respondents and two global NGO consortia, InterAction and ICVA. Respondents were asked a series of questions related to different aspects of the UNHCR-NGO project partnership relationships: basic information, overall relationship, planning, selection, and implementation. The data received was analyzed jointly by HIAS and InterAction in consultation with UNHCR-IPMS. HIAS and InterAction received 277 complete and valid responses to the NGO survey from 73 countries. UNHCR Country Offices provided approximately 60 complete and valid responses spanning 45 countries.

Overall Relationship and Key Findings

Generally, both UNHCR and NGO Partners report a favorable and positive overall relationship in our work together for persons of concern, with NGO Partners reporting a more positive assessment about the state of partnerships than UNHCR. Results this year continue a four-year trend of increasingly favorable assessments of the UNCHRNGO partnership by NGOs. Although UNHCR reported similar levels of satisfaction with their partnership with local NGO/CBOs and INGOs, INGOs were less positive about their partnership with UNHCR than National NGOs.

Most NGO Partners and UNHCR respondents report that the NGO-UNHCR relationship has improved over the last 12 months, continuing a three-year trend of increasingly positive assessments of how the UNHCR-NGO relationship is trending. NGOs also report improved communication between UNHCR and their office, with a greater proportion of respondents rating communication as ‘excellent’ than ‘good’ for the first time in three years.

The survey findings reveal positive trends that should be maintained by UNHCR and NGOs, as well as opportunities for improvement to better partner in serving persons of concern. For that reason, the authors of this report strongly recommend that, in addition to reporting on the survey results to the NGO Consultations, they also be presented and discussed at the annual UNHCR country representatives meeting in Geneva.


Engagement by NGOs in UNHCR’s formal COP stakeholder meetings was higher than in previous years and feedback from these meetings was generally positive, with most NGOs reporting that their feedback had been somewhat or very well reflected in the County Operations Plan. Engagement by UNHCR in NGO Partners annual planning meetings, however, was lower than in previous years.

Selection UNHCR respondents reported an increase in the number of offices that had issued a call for expression of interest to partners for 2017; however, similar proportions of respondents were selected for the projects for which they applied. Feedback for non-selection of partners remains an area in need of improvement as approximately a quarter of NGO respondents stated that they did not receive a satisfactory reason for their non-selection. UNHCR and NGO respondents generally agreed that a sufficient time between a call for expression of interest and the deadline for concept notes should be two weeks in emergency environments and one month in stable environments. Regarding the Partner Portal, both UNHCR and NGO respondents agreed that more training by UNHCR on how to use the Partner Portal are needed. However, NGO respondents were significantly more likely than UNHCR to assert that all aspects of grant management should be stored on the Partner Portal.