Our Quality Standards

Tearfund aims to work to the highest possible standards with integrity and transparency. We have identified a set of corporate Quality Standards in support of our vision and the delivery of our strategy which are in keeping with the organisational characteristics we aspire to and which summarise all of the relevant external and internal accountability and quality standards, codes, guidelines and principles to which we are committed:

  • Values: We are committed to living out our core values through our staff and with our partners in relationships with all those with whom we interact.
  • Impartiality & Targeting: We are committed to reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised, selected on the basis of need alone, regardless of their race, religion or nationality.
  • Accountability: We are committed to being fully accountable to project participants, communities, partners, supporters and donors for the work we undertake and for the resources entrusted to us. We adhere to a Supporters' Charter that sets out how we respond to our supporters' needs, queries and complaints.
  • Sustainability: We are committed to empowering staff and partners and to seeing that the work that we support has a lasting impact, being built on local ownership and using local skills and resources.
  • Advocacy: We are committed to influencing key decision-makers to make and implement policies and practices that work in favour of people who are poor and vulnerable.
  • Children: We are committed to the development and protection of children, carrying out activities that are child-sensitive in their planning, design and implementation.
  • Gender: We are committed to seeing transformation through restored relationships between men, women, boys and girls and ensuring equal value, participation and decision making by all.
  • HIV: We are committed to working for an HIV free world by reducing the vulnerability of poor communities to HIV and reducing its subsequent impact.
  • Environment: We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment, to assessing vulnerability to climate change and environmental degradation and to working with local communities to ensure that we support, not harm, the natural and socio-economic environment.
  • Disaster Risk: We are committed to reducing the risk of disaster by strengthening local capacity and reducing vulnerability to hazards.
  • Conflict: We are committed to promoting peace and reconciliation, supporting activities which impact positively upon situations of conflict and that safeguard staff and project participants.
  • Technical Quality: We are committed to supporting projects that reflect the priorities of those we seek to assist and that are guided by relevant technical standards and good practices.

The purpose of Tearfund’s Quality Standards is to ensure that those we serve benefit from the increased quality, effectiveness and impact of the work that we undertake. Our Quality Standards provide us with a framework: serving as a tool for staff recruitment, induction, training and performance management; serving as a tool for partner capacity development; to inform the work of project designers; and as a critical part of project monitoring, evaluation, learning and continuous improvement.  In supporting our partners, Tearfund’s approach is not to impose but to facilitate support to partners who share our commitment to good practice and improvement, and to seek to improve the quality of our partnerships. They are not intended to be used as a 'pass/fail' checklist and the framework recognises that questions of quality rarely involve simple 'yes/no' answers, but require analysis, transparency and continual improvement.  

Tearfund has produced a corporate action plan (PDF) for identifying our improvement commitments to address areas where more work is needed, as guided by our Programme Development Advisors and other specialists. Each commitment is supported with good practice guidance, case studies and key learning, which are intended to provide practical support for their implementation.    


The Quality Standards framework enables staff and partners with project participants to assess their context and agree which standards are priorities for their situation. Whilst there is always a need to prioritise the following are applicable in all contexts:

  • Values: In upholding our core values we stand against all forms of exploitation and abuse, fraud, bribery and any other conduct which is incompatible with these values.  
  • Impartiality: the provision of assistance must always be provided on the basis of need and not subject to favouritism or discrimination.
  • Accountability: ensuring the full participation of project participants, being transparent and sharing information, and receiving and responding to their feedback.
  • Do no harm requirements: relate to a number of the Quality Standards, for example: Gender (ensuring projects enhance safety for women and girls); Conflict (ensuring the project design does not heighten people’s vulnerability to violence and conflict), Environment (ensuring projects do not lead to environmental damage).

International codes and STANDARDs

As well as setting high standards for ourselves in our Quality Standards, we’ve signed up to a range of internationally recognised operating codes and standards because they enshrine our principles of respecting the people we work with.  These codes and standards have helped to shape our choice of Quality Standards:

  • The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief
    Tearfund is signatory of the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. The code sets out ten foundational principles and signatories are required to endeavour to incorporate these principles into their work based on voluntary compliance. This code includes principles such as impartiality, accountability, participation, dignity, building capacity and reducing vulnerability, which are reflected within Tearfund’s Quality Standards.
  • Consistent with our commitment to Accountability, Tearfund is a member of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP).
  • The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) sets out Nine Commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide. Certification from HQAI is a four-year cycle and Tearfund has the first ever Certificate issued by the new organisation to verify compliance.  This attests that Tearfund meets the requirements of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) This certificate is verification of the measurable progress in the delivery of humanitarian assistance within the international humanitarian community. The initiative’s prime motivating factor is to bring quality and accountability to affected populations and other stakeholders  established in 2003.
  • The Keeping Children Safe Coalition standards
    Tearfund was a founding member of the Keeping Children Safe Coalition, first established in 2003, and Tearfund's safeguarding policy was reviewed recently and will go through a process of ratification at the Board of Trustees in March 2018. In the meantime, the revised policy is available to all staff members, volunteers and representatives. The Coalition is made up of agencies who are committed to child protection, aim to achieve the highest level of protection for children with whom they come into contact and to work towards achieving the international standards developed by the Keeping Children Safe Coalition through voluntary compliance.
  • The UN Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and non-UN Personnel
    Tearfund became a signatory to the Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and non UN Personnel in 2008. The statement commits signatories to incorporate core principles relating to combating sexual exploitation and abuse into their codes of conduct and staff rules and regulations.
  • Sphere Project logoThe SPHERE Project – Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response 
    We are committed to the technical quality of our projects as laid out in the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response  and reflected in our Quality Standard focusing on Technical Quality. The Sphere Handbook, last updated in 2004, sets out what people affected by disasters have a right to expect from humanitarian assistance, with the aim to improve the quality of assistance provided and to enhance the accountability of the humanitarian system in disaster response. Adoption of Sphere standards by organisations is based on a system of voluntary compliance.
  • NGO Code of Good PracticeThe Code of Good Practice for NGOs Responding to HIV
    Our commitment to addressing HIV is guided by the Code of Good Practice for NGOs Responding to HIV. The Code sets out key principles, practice and evidence base required for successful responses to HIV. In endorsing the Code, organisations commit to continuous improvement and accountability.

Tearfund also makes reference to UN declarations to guide its Quality Standards:

Stakeholders and affiliations

We wish to hold ourselves to account to our main stakeholders for these standards and will make them publicly available in formats appropriate for each:

  • Project participants: the standards selected are first and foremost to be responsive to the needs and priorities of project participants (via our partners, and via notice boards, leaflets, community meetings etc.).
  • Our partners (via Country Representatives, in Tearfund’s International Programme Management System etc.).
  • Our supporters (via the website).
  • Our institutional donors (via project proposals and reports).
  • Our staff (via the Tearfund intranet, staff induction and internal communications).
  • Our Board (via Board Meeting Agenda items and meetings).

Tearfund has a number of affiliations with other organisations, for which these Quality Standards are relevant, including:


Who's who

A wide range of high-profile church leaders and Christians in the public eye support Tearfund.

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