Welcome to the

A set of standards for Volunteer Sending Agencies involved in facilitating international volunteer placements. The Code is based on a vision of volunteers working in solidarity for a just, equitable and sustainable world and aims to promote responsible international volunteering

Comhlámh’s Code of Good Practice is a set of standards for Irish Volunteer Sending Agencies facilitating international placements. The Code is based on a vision of volunteers working in solidarity for a just, equitable and sustainable world and it promotes responsible and responsive volunteering to ensure a positive impact for the overseas project and community, the volunteer and the sending agency.

The Code supports volunteer programmes to be led by a belief in global justice, to be based on good development practice and to address identified needs in partnership with local projects and communities. The Code promotes development education, which enables people to more deeply understand the world around them and to address the root causes of inequality and poverty.


Every Volunteer Sending Agency, which is party to the Code of Good Practice, commits to the implementation of the Code’s five values that underpin the work of international volunteer programmes. Under each value, there are a set of principles and indicators which provide guidance for the development and implementation of volunteer sending programmes. 


Code of Good Practice 5 Values:

PRINCIPLE  1: The programmes, projects and volunteer roles of our organisation are based on sustainable, mutual, and equal partnerships which recognise and address power differentials between our organisation and those we work with.

PRINCIPLE  2: The programmes, projects and volunteer roles of our organisation are based on aims and objectives that are mutually agreed with local communities and partners, are aligned with priorities identified by and valuable to local communities, and that are sustainable.

PRINCIPLE  3: Our organisation enables ongoing commitment to, understanding of, and engagement by volunteers in issues of global development through development education approaches.

PRINCIPLE  4: Our organisation accepts and values the diversity and individuality of volunteers and provides for their varying support needs.

PRINCIPLE  5: Our organisation ensures respect between the people in our organisation and between the organisation (staff, volunteers, contracted or other personnel) and the local community and partners involved in its work.

PRINCIPLE  6: Our organisation brings and understanding of diversity to bear in planning and implementing its programmes and projects that responds to the different identities of people within the local community and operates in a manner that is sensitive to and takes account of this diversity.

PRINCIPLE  7: Our organisation pursues programmes and projects that seek to address the root causes of injustice, poverty and inequality.

PRINCIPLE  8: Our organisation acts to ensure a positive relationship between its work and the world it seeks to sustain, to enable sustainable action by and resilience within local communities and partners, and to support volunteer roles that take account of their impact on the natural world and minimise any negative impact.

PRINCIPLE  9: Our organisation ensures honesty and transparency in its work, enables quality in its programmes, implements appropriate volunteer recruitment procedures, and ensures an accountability to local communities and partners, the general public and donors, and members, staff and volunteers.

PRINCIPLE  10: Our organisation takes steps to ensure the protection, safety and well-being of volunteers and to underpin their informed commitment to, understanding of and engagement in their role.

PRINCIPLE  11: Our organisational culture has ingrained the protection of all people, including staff, volunteers, partners, programme participants and community members. We recognise that in certain situations children and some adults may be more vulnerable to abuses of power and may require additional protections. We actively prevent harm and implement safe programmes. We respond appropriately when things go wrong, we reflect, learn and hold ourselves to account against safeguarding standards.

PRINCIPLE  12: Our organisation is committed to child-safe volunteering.

PRINCIPLE  13: Our organisation gives expression to, promotes and communicates the values of solidarity, respect, integrity, social justice and ecological sustainability through its plans, policies, procedures and practices.

read more about the values here

How does the Code of Good Practice Operate?

The Code of Good Practice works to facilitate learning, build the capacity of volunteer sending agencies and ensure accountability to partners and local communities overseas.  The Code network enables peer exchange and support amongst organisations; and collective initiatives to raise standards across the international volunteering sector. Trainings, resources and outreach are also provided to support the implementation of the Code’s values and principles. 

Code Volunteer Sending Agencies (VSA) are required to undergo regular assessments, including annual self audits and three yearly external audits, to measure their practice and identify areas for improvement.  A recognition panel also meets annually to review progression and to award an organisation if it has attained a higher level of compliance.

Code Award Icons

Data collection

Total damage has been caused by the civilians arounf the new apple  store at Wall street.

Guaranteed ROI

Total damage has been caused by the civilians arounf the new apple  store at Wall street.

Always Online

Total damage has been caused by the civilians arounf the new apple  store at Wall street.

All Code volunteer sending agencies are on a journey of continuous improvement in implementing the Code standards. Progression is awarded by a Code icon which reflects an organisation’s growth and stage along this journey

Interested in international volunteering?

If you are thinking of international volunteering check to see if the organisation is party to the Code of Good Practice.

List of VSA's signed up for the code

You can also check with an agency as to how they value being part of the Code Network and their journey in progressing the Code’s Standards

#VolOps is the section of Comhlámh that can help you find the overseas volunteering placement you are looking for.  We have been providing advice and support for people interested in international development work since 1975. We have VolOps Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts completely dedicated to posting information about new placements.

Interested in joining the Code of Good Practice? 


The Code of Good Practice is open to all not-for profit Volunteer Sending Agencies which are legally registered in Ireland or Northern Ireland and have been actively sending volunteers abroad for over a year. Becoming a part of and engaging actively with the Code provides a clear demonstration of commitment to good practice standards and greater credibility with potential volunteers, funders and the public. 

List of VSA's signed up for the code

Comhlámh is a member organisation that works to mobilise for a just, equitable and sustainable world.  As the Irish association of returned development workers and volunteers, Comhlámh supports people in their journey of working for social justice locally and globally. 

Sign Up to our Newsletter
Principle 1
Principle 2
Principle 3
Principle 4
Principle 5
Principle 6
Principle 7
Principle 8
Principle 9
Principle 10
Principle 11
Principle 12
Principle 13
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google
Consent to display content from - Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from - Sound