Resources to Provide Ombuds Services

Articles, Training, Books, and More

The work of an organizational ombuds is complex and varied. Below are some key resources to help ombuds practitioners establish, conduct, assess, and continually improve their office’s ability to provide high-quality professional services. Search the IOA Clearinghouse for even more articles, templates, and resources related to your interests.

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COVID-19 & Contact Tracing Guidance for Ombuds

In an effort to provide guidance to assist IOA members, IOA’s Executive Director prepared a memorandum to provide some guidance to IOA members on the implications of COVID-19 and contact tracing on their practices. You may access this important resource via this link:

COVID-19 IOA Memorandum


IOA Online Learning

IOA webinars offer the latest information on topics relevant to ombuds work. Register for upcoming webinars or purchase recordings of past offerings in the IOA Online Learning Center

Sample webinars include:
View Upcoming Webinars


Ombuds Topical Practice Guides: Essential Publications for the Practicing Ombudsman

  1. Neutrality
  2. Options, Functions, and Skills
  3. The Ombuds Confidentiality Privilege
  4. Reprisal, Retaliation, and Redress
  5. Dealing with the Fear of Violence
  6. Why an Organizational Ombudsman?  


These six booklets were originally given to new IOA members and participants in the IOA Ombuds 101/Foundations Course. They represent the work of multiple authors and leaders in our field and are now available to IOA members in downloadable pdf format and available for purchase by non-members. The brochures provide a historical foundation with useful information still relevant to current organizational ombuds work. Learn more.


Working as an Ombuds

The Organizational Ombudsman as Change Agent
Negotiation Journal, 2000
By Marsha Wagner

Amplifying Trends with Data
Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, 2018
By Jennifer Schneider

Courage in Ombuds Work
Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, 2014
By Cynthia M. Joyce

IOA Practice & Compensation Survey Reports
The biannual IOA Practice & Compensation Survey provides an important snapshot of the contemporary field of organizational ombuds based on responses from practitioners. Collected every other year by a team of researchers, the survey data allow organizational ombuds to position ourselves effectively as a profession over time. The survey data also permit us to offer targeted support to our members and to organizations interested in creating and sustaining an ombuds office. Practice & Compensation Reports are available to IOA members free of charge. Non-members can purchase the reports below. 

Purchase Practice & Compensation Reports


Establishing an Ombuds Office

Toolkits and Guides

Ombuds Toolkit for Higher Education Institutions
The toolkit can be used to aid the consideration and establishment of ombuds offices and to help existing ombuds become more effective.

Guide for Setting up a Conference Ombuds Program
IOA developed this guide of sample documents as a public service in light of the increasing demand for the provision of ombuds services at conferences of professional associations and other organizations.

K-12 School Ombuds Toolkit
This 3-part guide was compiled by the ABA Dispute Resolution Section Ombuds Committee to assist K-12 school communities in establishing ombuds programs. 

Member-Only Resources

The following documents are available here for members only. 

  • Best Practices: Ombudsman Office Charters: This document is designed to provide a general outline of the information that is typically included within ombuds office charters; it may be useful for organizations that are considering establishing an office, ombuds in newly created offices who are collaborating with their institutions on developing a charter, or ombuds offices that are already established, but lack a charter.
  • Under Review, New Version Coming Soon! Nuts and Bolts for Establishing a New Ombudsman Office: This document was originally written as a guide to establishing an ombuds office in a college or university setting and was part of the University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA) Handbook. However, it contains many useful instructions that are applicable to both academic and non-academic ombuds offices.
  • Questions for Implementing a Successful Ombuds Office: Common and recurrent questions organizations address when assessing the value, design, and implementation of a successful organizational ombuds office. 
  • Generic Organizational Ombuds Position Descriptions: For Academic and Corporate Ombuds


Additional Articles

Blueprint for Success: Designing a Proactive Organizational Ombudsman Program
Page 36, Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, 2015
By John Barkat

Setting Up An Ombuds Office – Safety Considerations
The Journal of the California Caucus of College & University Ombudsmen, 1994
By Linda Wilcox

Ombuds Office Administration

The following documents are available here for members only. 

  • Uniform Data Reporting Categories: A list of categories used by ombuds across sectors to classify the types of issues brought to their offices, identify trends in requests for services, and note opportunities for professional development and proactive conflict competency programming.
  • Documents – Suggestions on The Creation, Maintenance, and Destruction of Documents: By Charles L. Howard
  • Office Survey Question Bank: Many ombuds offices find it useful to survey people who have used their services in order to help refine their practice and provide data to the organization on satisfaction rates and other key indicators. This document includes some general principles for developing survey questions and a list of questions that offices are currently using to solicit feedback.

Annual Report Exemplars

Books About the Ombuds Profession

The Ombudsman Handbook: Designing and Managing an Effective Problem-Solving Program
McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2011
By James T. Ziegenfuss Jr. & Patricia O'Rourke

The IOA is committed to providing relevant information on the organizational ombuds profession and related topics. Explore available resources in the Resources menu tab. Some resources are available to members only, as a benefit of membership. Learn more about joining IOA.

If you are aware of additional relevant resources that are available in the public domain or by permission, please contact the IOA at [email protected] about adding those resources to this collection and/or the IOA Clearinghouse.