Some of the elements of acceptance are: (1) The belligerent parties/combatants or the official or de facto authorities in the NGO's area of work given their consent to the NGO's activities. (2) The community has a stake in the programme and participates actively. (3) The community has been involved in the assessment and design of the programme. (4) The community is involved in the evaluation of the programme. (5) The NGO's mission is transparent and broadly communicated. (6) The NGO's activities are perceived as impartial. (7) The NGO's staff and presence are culturally and politically sensitive. (8) The NGO's programme reflects local priorities. (9) The NGO has developed good working relationships with local governmental authorities, including the police and military where appropriate. (10) The NGO's programmes reflect basic development concepts and a willingness to invest the time and effort to involve the community in every facet of project assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation.
Acceptance is the cornerstone of security for NGOs with a development mandate, but is often challenged under the timeframes and political circumstances in which NGO relief efforts take place. In war-time relief operations, acceptance by the beneficiary community may seem to be grossly overshadowed by the hostility of one or more of the combatants. For example, Bosnian acceptance of NGO operations in Sarajevo was overshadowed by Serb hostility, making it necessary for NGOs to build strong protection and deterrence strategies.
In emergency operations, the pressure to get programmes moving may limit the ability of staff to thoroughly involve the local community. However, it is imperative that NGOs do not let a limited vision of mission obscure this critical element in the security triangle and core element in quality programmeming: the community's involvement.