About Listen First

The Listen First research project aimed to develop practical ways for NGOs to manage their accountability to the people they aim to serve.

It focused on working with NGO staff to develop strong relationships and dialogue with their intended beneficiaries, and partners.

The management tools and approaches were developed and refined during the research project. They can still be improved further.


The "Listen First Framework" is at the heart of the approach. It is one side long, and sets out how four principles can be put into practice, throughout projects. The principles are:

  • Providing information publically
  • Involving people in making decisions
  • Listening (feedback & complaints)
  • Staff attitudes & behaviours

The framework provided a shared set of expectations about what accountability means for staff, partners and managers. It is directly compatible with HAP's 2007 Standard.

Three processes

The approach uses the framework to structure three central processes:

  1. Workshops for staff to discuss and assess current levels of accountability, and to identify improvements for their specific context.
  2. Research into local communities' views of how accountable staff are in practice, and how useful they find the NGO's work. This is split by gender.
  3. Summary reports for managers to understand the level of accountability achieved in different projects. These can be quantified.

Find out more

You can download the framework and a range of key documents from the practical materials and reports pages.