Code of ethics

NCVO has been developing a set of principles that can act as a ‘code of ethics’ for the charity sector and is now consulting on a draft code.

You can read the draft code of ethics here.


Recent concerns about safeguarding and wider conduct at work are, rightly, a major priority for charities, government, and regulators. At summits held by the Charity Commission and the Department for International Development, charities, sector bodies, the regulator and government agreed to put new mechanisms in place to strengthen safeguarding, workplace practices and culture, and prevent incidents wherever possible.

What the code of ethics is for

We hope the code will provide a framework for charities to review their own policies and practice. They can then identify where these need to change in line with their own purpose and specific values.

The proposed code would apply to:

  • safeguarding
  • conduct within charities
  • safe employment practices
  • dignity in the workplace
  • treating all individuals with respect.

Adoption and endorsement of the code will be voluntary.

Why NCVO is doing this

Many charities have their own codes of behaviour, but they’re usually specific to their circumstances and focus on particular issues (such as working with children, or vulnerable adults). There is no overarching set of principles that reflects the values shared across the charity sector.

How we developed the draft code

The draft for consultation has been developed by drawing on existing codes of conduct and ethical principles, including:

The draft has also been discussed at a roundtable event chaired by Dame Mary Marsh. Participants included representatives from:

  • international charities
  • small charities
  • charity retail
  • charity fundraising
  • children’s charities
  • older people’s charities
  • disability charities
  • healthcare charities
  • charities working with volunteers and/or young people
  • sub-sector bodies.

This consultation is the next stage of the process, to ensure the final version is based on feedback from the widest possible range of organisations.

Let us know your views

The consultation closes on Wednesday 26 September 2018.

Please email responses or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

You can also get in touch with us if you have any questions or would like to hear about events we’re running to engage with charities about the Code.

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