The Bond Charter is the common vision, purpose, values and principles of the Bond network. It outlines a shared commitment by Bond members to excellence, transparency and accountability. The Charter draws on a range of existing codes, norms, standards and guidelines, but does not replace them.1
As full members of Bond, through our commitment to this Charter, we seek to demonstrate and ensure that our own organisations meet the high standards that we demand of others.
Bond members believe in high-quality development and are ready to be accountable to high standards. The Charter refers to established standards of good practice.
The Charter was formally adopted at the Bond AGM on 23 October 2012 (amended at the AGM on 20 November 2018) and replaces the original Statement of Principles which dated back to 1993.
Our approaches to development
While Bond members are diverse in every way, we share a common mission, we work together and are professionally united by the principles of this Charter.
We subscribe to a variety of theories of change
We neither impose nor endorse any single approach: the strength and power of the Bond network and of civil society in general is derived from a variety of approaches, rather than from its uniformity.
We share a common mission to bring about change in the world
We share a core belief that social and economic injustice drives global poverty and conflict, and that change must take place for peaceful sustainable development to happen. Women and men living in poverty have the least voice, least power and least control over decisions affecting them, and least recourse to justice for the injustices, violence and discrimination they suffer.
We work together
We work with each other, and with others, where this is the best way to advance our common mission. We will play an active role in Bond as our collective network – both benefitting from the strength of our community and contributing to it. We recognise that only by working with each other and with others can our collective vision be realised.
We are professional
We seek the greatest impact on development within limited resources. We recognise that our supporters, and those with whom we work, expect us to meet professional standards. We are committed to upholding the credibility and integrity of the development sector through the excellence of our practice, recognising that public confidence and our collective reputation rests on our success in so doing.
Our common principles
We will strive to meet or exceed these fundamental standards of practice:
We are accountable to our stakeholders – including and particularly those who we aim to support with our work – for our actions, and recognise that this enables us to learn and to improve our practice. In balancing the different views of our stakeholders, we will be guided by the principles of this Charter.
2 Human Rights
NGOs are founded on the right to freedom of speech, assembly and association in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.2 We seek to advance international and national laws that promote human rights, sustainable development and other public goods. Where such laws do not exist, are not fully implemented, or are abused, we (and our partners) will highlight these issues and advocate remedial action.
We will value, respect and encourage diversity, and be impartial and non-discriminatory in all our activities to further the goal of inclusive development. We will implement policies that promote diversity and equality, impartiality and non-discrimination.
4 Civil society
We believe that the freedom, voice and legitimacy of civil society are central to the achievement of just and sustainable development outcomes.
We will be politically independent. Our governance, programmes and policies will be:
- independent of government policy
- independent of political parties
- independent of business interests
to ensure that we are not diverted from our organisational mission and able to act with integrity.
6 Advocacy and communications
We will ensure that our advocacy and communications are consistent with our shared vision, is grounded in our work, and advances defined public interests. We will have clear and accountable processes for adopting public policy positions, and commit to adhere to the CONCORD Code of Conduct on the Use of Images and Messages3 based on respect for human dignity and truthfulness. While retaining our autonomy, we will respect the collective decision-making of the Bond network and remain mindful of the impact of our positions and actions on other Bond members.
We will ensure that the poor, voiceless and excluded are recognised as a key component in determining, advocating and monitoring public policies on development through multi-stakeholder dialogue and the strengthening of civil society organisations as non-partisan political actors in development.
8 Sustainable development
We will work in partnership with local communities, NGOs and other organisations for development that is sustainable and responsive to local needs. We recognise that supporting others to fulfil their potential, and building local capacity, is fundamental to achieving this. We also recognise that damage to ecosystems leads to greater poverty, and that sustainable management of the environment makes poorer communities more resilient. We commit therefore to taking account of this in our programme design, in our business practices and, where appropriate, in our influencing of others.
9 Professional standards
Whatever the technical focus or specialism of our activities we will adopt the conventional professional standards and best practice most usually associated with that discipline or approach. In committing to high-quality work, we accept that it is our own responsibility to adhere to the standards and codes most appropriate to our work and to promote them to our staff and partners.4
We will manage our organisations in a professional and effective manner. Our policies and procedures will promote excellence in all respects.5
We will follow principles of best practice in governance6 and should be held responsible by others for what we do. We will facilitate this by: having a clear mission, organisational structure and decision-making processes; by acting in accordance with stated values and agreed procedures; by ensuring that our programmes achieve outcomes that are consistent with our mission; and by complying with relevant governance, accounting and reporting requirements in an open and transparent manner.
We will be open, transparent and honest about our structures, governance, mission, policies, finances and activities. We will communicate actively with stakeholders about our activities and make information publicly available (mindful of the security implications of so doing). We will be transparent as to what standards and codes of conduct we seek to comply with, and ensure that policies are in place that enable and encourage staff to draw management or Board attention to activities that may not comply with the law or our mission and commitments, including the provisions in this Charter.
12 Ethical fundraising
We will fundraise in an ethical manner and adhere to the provisions of the Fundraising Regulator Code of Fundraising7. In particular, in raising funds we will:
- accurately describe our activities, needs and the specific goals we will pursue with resources entrusted to us
- ensure through our policies and practices that donations further our organisation’s mission
- respect the human dignity of people who will benefit from our fundraising efforts, and conform to the highest standards in relation to human rights and the protection of vulnerable people
- honour donors’ requests where donations are made for a specific purpose
- respect the rights of donors to be informed about how their donations are used, and to remain anonymous except in cases where the size of their donation is such that it might be relevant to our independence
We will continuously improve our effectiveness, recognising that this depends on assessing the impact of our activity, and learning from the same. We will use defined evaluation procedures for our boards, staff and programmes based on mutual accountability.
14 Human resources
The people who work for us are fundamental to the achievement of our mission. We recognise that they merit respect and proper management, and that the effectiveness and success of our operations depends on the contributions of all salaried and contract staff, and volunteers.
We will support the development of our southern partners' structures, knowledge and expertise. Where these structures do not exist, we will support their development. We recognise that our organisational integrity is dependent on our partners meeting the highest standards of probity and accountability, and, as appropriate in consultation with our partners, we will take all possible steps to ensure that there are no links with organisations or persons involved in illegal or unethical practices.8
16 Bribery and corruption
We accept that bribery and corruption damage development outcomes, and that perceptions of corruption undermine UK public support for international development. We commit to a policy of zero tolerance of bribery in any form, and to implement policies to counter bribery.9
17 Safeguarding practices
We will respect the safety, well-being and rights of the communities we seek to serve and the people who work for us – wherever they are in the world and whatever the humanitarian or development challenges. Respect means taking all possible steps to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring, and taking immediate action if it does; it also means putting the voices, rights and support of victims and survivors at the heart of our approach. Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment are fundamentally about gender inequality and power imbalance and a profound effort will be needed if we are to ensure systemic and lasting cultural change. We will ensure that our safeguarding practice is consistent and high quality, taking collective action and implementing sector-wide solutions, guided by the Commitments brought to the 2018 Safeguarding Summit.10
- For example, the Bond Charter draws inspiration from, and adapts, the INGO Accountability Charter
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- CONCORD Code of Conduct on the Use of Images and Messages
- Such codes and standards may include Volunteer Management (VE), Sphere Standards and Indicators for humanitarian work, UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and medical ethics.
- All Bond members may use the Bond Health Check to critically evaluate their internal capacities, and to find guidance on strengthening.
- NCVO Charity Governance Code
- Fundraising Regulator – Code of Fundraising
- For example, by following Charity Commission guidance "Protecting Charities from Harm"
- Bond Anti-Bribery Principles and Guidance for NGOs
- See the Commitments here
Authority to revise
Authority to make material changes to the Bond Charter rests with Bond's governing board, which will determine matters to be brought before the membership.
Bond is not a regulatory body. It does not monitor or regulate the actions, outputs or views of our members.