Based on ethnographic and policy research in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, this article examines how contemporary trends in the humanitarian relief industry to mandate continual data collection, “accountability,” and the “localization” of aid have increased demands for participatory and intensive research methodologies in crisis‐affected communities. International humanitarian relief agencies hustle to hire local staffs and recruit enough participants for their repeated research projects, while at the same time, the so‐called beneficiaries of aid also hustle to participate in data collection as paid informants and temporary employees. Research is an important side gig for many beneficiaries, and beneficiaries’ regular participation is vital to reforming humanitarian practice. Beneficiaries are not therefore passive recipients of charity, but actively help produce the representations of crisis and suffering that, in turn, potentially qualify them for aid. Their indispensability and activity within contemporary humanitarian “audit cultures” therefore present emergent but limited forms of counter‐hegemonic power.