Code of ethics

NCVO has been developing a set of principles that can act as a ‘code of ethics’ for the charity sector. We then published our draft code for consultation and are now considering all the feedback we've received.

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.

We then ran a consultation to ensure the final version was based on feedback from the widest possible range of organisations.

Let us know your views

The consultation formally closed on Wednesday 26 September 2018. However, we're still happy to hear from people about the code, so feel free to get in touch.

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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