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:

We expect the highest behaviour standards across all of our work. We stand against all forms of exploitation, abuse, fraud, bribery and any other conduct that is incompatible with our values. We strive to transfer power to the people we serve; to transform our own, our partners’ and communities’ attitudes and practices on inclusion, conflict sensitivity, accountability, gender and learning.

Impartiality & Targeting
We are committed to impartiality, providing assistance to the most vulnerable without regard for race, religion, ethnicity, ability, age, gender, sexuality, or nationality. We target our work on the basis of need alone while remaining sensitive to conflict dynamics, and proactively work to support those who would otherwise be marginalised or excluded, in particular children, the elderly and those living with disability.

We are committed to ensuring that all our work is based upon effective communication with, participation of and feedback from the communities we serve. It is important that all interventions are transparent and based upon continuous learning. We also hold ourselves accountable to our partners, donors, supporters and colleagues, and to all those with whom we relate and interact.

In all our programmes we actively seek to challenge gender inequality, harmful beliefs and practices, and work towards gender justice. We are committed to progressing gender equality, the restoration of relationships between men and women, boys and girls, and ensuring their equal value, participation, and decision-making in all aspects of life.

We are committed to community-led and participatory approaches to development and humanitarian response for sustainable impact that is based on root cause analysis. We encourage participation from all members of a community, and strive to support beneficiaries to have control over their own development at all levels, from local development activities through to local, national, and regional advocacy.

Technical Quality
We are committed to the high technical quality of all of our work, and the work of partners, through meeting relevant national and international standards aligned with communities’ own priorities. We will continuously learn to improve and identify and replicate good practice that is demonstrated to have relevant and positive impact.

We are committed to helping people understand, reduce and manage the risks they face as well as to address the drivers of vulnerability. This includes supporting people and communities in developing resilient livelihoods, strengthening social cohesion, improving access to services, stewarding environmental resources, reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change.

We are committed to restoring relationships and building safe and secure communities. We seek to prioritise the protection of all - especially children and the most marginalised and vulnerable adults - from physical, social and psychological harm. We will take steps to assess risks, including conflict dynamics, to avoid any adverse effects of our work that might expose people to danger or lead to abuse. We believe that community members are the best actors in their own protection and will support their actions to stay safe, find security and restore dignity.

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.    

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.
  • NCVO charity ethical principles
    We are signed up to a series of guidelines developed by the NCVO. These are principles that provide an overarching framework for voluntary organisations to guide good decision-making and conduct.

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:

Tearfund’s Gender Pay Gap Report

Gender Pay Gap legislation came into force in 2017 (Equality Act 2010 - Gender Pay Gap Information Regulations 2017). These regulations require all large employers like Tearfund (over 250 employees) to report on their ‘Gender Pay Gap’ – this is the gap between the average hourly rate of pay for men and the average hourly rate of pay for women.

Gender pay gap data is based on a snapshot of data on 5 April each year, and only applies to staff based in England, Scotland and Wales.

The gender pay gap highlights pay inequalities between men and women. These can result from a different proportion of men and women in a given pay band, or the differences in roles performed by men and women. This is different to equal pay which concerns pay differences between individuals or groups performing the same or similar work. Unequal pay for men and women for the same work has been illegal in the UK since the 1970 Equal Pay Act.


View our Frequently Asked Questions area for more information about Giving or Gift Aid.

Continue Reading