Complaints policy

Let us know when we disappoint

Purpose and scope

Feedback is essential to any organization’s development. Synaps, as a matter of principle, prefers expressions of dissatisfaction over silence or indifference, because they help us evolve, make sounder decisions, and foster an internal culture based on open communication. 

This policy aims to improve Synaps’ ability to collect, document, communicate, process, and resolve complaints. The procedure applies whether complaints come from Synaps’ staff, clients, providers, peers, interviewees, or the public at large. Complaints are not restricted in scope, and may relate to due process, work performance, individual behavior, structural bias, ethical concerns, and so on. 


We welcome all complaints. They can be made formally or informally, openly or anonymously.  To ensure the best possible response, we encourage them to be timely, specific, explained in detail, and corroborated by evidence where relevant. Regardless of their nature, all complaints will be dealt with according to the case management process described below.

As a general route, complaints can be emailed to complain@synaps.world. This is an “alias,” meaning that emails sent to this address are automatically forwarded to three members of staff: Synaps’ director, the staff-elected member of our board, and a third colleague. Together, they will then deal with the complaint through the case management process. If a complaint involves any one of these individuals, the concerned person will be excluded from this process. If it involves all three, the complaint shall be forwarded to the chair of the board.

Complaints may also be addressed directly to a Synaps staff member, in-person, by email, or otherwise, or posted to one of our social media profiles as a public callout. Regardless of the circumstances, staff must still forward any complaints they receive to complain@synaps.world, to set in motion the case management process. They are at liberty to protect the anonymity of the person who approached them. 

The complain@synaps.world address must feature prominently in as many forms of Synaps communication as possible, including on our website home page. 


Regardless of who makes them, complaints will not lead to reprisals or penalties of any kind, as long as they remain within the reasonable limits set by the law. 

Case management

All complaints will be handled according to the procedure described here, unless otherwise specified in another policy (eg anti-harassment), or if a complaint is made through official channels that override our own, such as police reports and legal procedures.


The first step in responding to any complaint is to acknowledge it. Any staff member who receives a complaint will immediately express their appreciation to the person for making the complaint (without validating or endorsing the complaint itself) and confirm that Synaps will look into it per this policy. 


All complaints shall then be entered into Synaps’ complaint log. The log shall record the date and nature of the complaint, as well as the channel through which it was made and, in due course, the results of any investigation and any final resolutions or outcomes. 

The complaint log will also categorize entries, to ensure that patterns can be identified and tackled as structural problems rather than as a series of isolated events.


Complaints are best dealt with swiftly, which reduces the risk of escalation and repetition. Although quick resolution is always the goal, some complaints are trickier than others, and may require investigation and complex remedial measures. All such proceedings must begin as soon as possible; any delays in documentation, communication, and processing will only make a difficult problem more intractable still. 

Acknowledgement of a complaint must happen in the moment or within less than 24 hours. An investigation, when one is required, must conclude within less than a week, unless an extension is justified in writing and recorded in the complaint log. 


Not all complaints lend themselves to an investigation, and it is not always easy to determine which ones do. Generally, a complaint that can be efficiently handled through transparent communication does not require an investigation. However, if it brings out defensive behavior among staff, prompts an internal debate, or in any way discourages open communication, then it most likely deserves more thorough scrutiny. An investigation may help root out a serious problem, prevent an escalation, or provide grounds for dismissing a complaint. 

An investigation follows five steps:
  • 1. Appoint. Depending on the gravity of the complaint, Synaps will either appoint a person to oversee the case or form a committee of three people deemed sufficiently impartial. 
  • 2. Research. The investigator(s) will gather any testimonies and evidence relevant to the case. They will do so with discretion, ensuring the privacy of all involved.
  • 3. Deliberate. Either the single investigator will present and debate the outcomes of their investigation with other colleagues, or the three-person committee will debate among themselves, and assess the solidity of the claims. A transcript of any debates, along with the investigation material, shall be included in the case’s documentation.
  • 4. Decide. Synaps will agree on remedial measures, recorded in the complaint log.
  • 5. Communicate. Synaps will close the case with some form of communication, whether public or private, with the person who made the complaint and any other relevant parties. This shall also be recorded in the complaint log.


If the above process proves insufficient to reach a resolution, the case shall be presented, with all its documentation, to the chair of Synaps’ board. 


Any complaint shall lead to some form of closure, which might include: 
  • Providing an explanation
  • Offering an apology
  • Introducing a policy change
  • Implementing corrective measures involving staff, in the event of grave accusations corroborated by an investigation

When no action is deemed necessary, the case may be dismissed on a provisional basis. However, if a pattern emerges or an escalation ensues, it shall be tackled anew. 

Closure implies a degree of acceptance of Synaps’ findings and remedial measures by the party who originally made the complaint. However, Synaps’ overarching goal is to always improve as an organization, which will be the true measure of satisfactory case management over the long term. 

Illustration credits: William Blake Dante running from the three beasts by Wikimedia / Public domain; megaphone by publicdomainvectors.org / Public domain.