Code of Good Practice

Triangle CoGP symbol whited
code of good practice 5

The Comhlámh Code of Good Practice (CoGP)

The Comhlámh CoGP for Volunteer Sending Agencies is a set of standards for organisations involved in facilitating international volunteer placements in the Global South. The CoGP is based on a vision of volunteers working in solidarity for a just, equitable and sustainable world. The focus of the Code is to ensure overseas volunteering has a positive impact for the three main stakeholders: the volunteer, the sending agency, and the local project and community.

Comhlámh strongly advises people thinking about volunteering overseas to only go with agencies that have signed up to our Code Of Good Practice. 

The CoGP 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 CoGP promotes development education as key to effective volunteering which works to analyse and challenge the root causes of inequality and poverty.

The Code has been developed in close consultation with Irish volunteer sending agencies, returned volunteers and with a range of partners that host international volunteers. Internationally this Code has been recognised as best practice: ‘The highest-regarded set of guidelines, though, is the Code of Good Practice for Volunteer-Sending Organisations (CoGP) developed by Comhlamh, an Irish organisation’. The Guardian 

Currently there are 44 organisations committed to implementing good practice through the CoGP.  We strongly recommend that you choose one of them if you are thinking about volunteering in the Global South.

Volunteer sending agencies that have signed up to the CoGP commit to upholding and implementing 11 principles.

All signatories of the Code of Good Practice are asked to host an image in their website to reflect the organisations level of compliance with the code. Below are images for each of the three categories of compliance, Signatory, Core and Comprehensive. 


Comhlámh also partners with organisations that do not directly send volunteer but wish to promote good practice among their members, helping to protect volunteers, host communities and host organisations. This growing network currently has 15 organisations. These are: Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, Board of Irish College Societies, Department of International Development – Maynooth University, Health Service Executive, Irish Development Education Association, Irish Federation of University Teachers, Irish Forum for Global Health, Irish National Teacher Organisation, Irish Nurses and Midwifes Organisation, Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists International Health and Development Group (ISCPIDHD), National University of Ireland Galway Student Societies, National Youth Council of Ireland, Student, Volunteer Now and Worldwise Global Schools


Who can sign up to and use the Code of Good Practice?

The CoGP can be used as a standards framework and tool by any organisation or group sending volunteers overseas in a development context. The CoGP principles and indicators have been designed to accommodate a broad range of programme types including organisations targeting volunteers for short-term non-professional placements or long-term highly skilled placements. Signing up to the CoGP and participating in the formal monitoring and validation processes is only open to organisations that:

  • Include a development impact / awareness focus to its programme
  • Commit to, and actively work towards, implementing the principles outlined in the Code of Good Practice
  • Are legally registered as either a company or charity in Ireland or Northern Ireland for over a year
  • Have an international volunteer programme in place operating for a minimum of a year
  • Participate in monitoring and validation processes and attend peer support meetings

What are the benefits of implementing the Code of Good Practice?

  • Clear demonstration of commitment to good practice standards
  • Greater credibility and legitimacy with funders, potential volunteers and the public
  • Better experience and quality of programme for volunteers
  • Local partners are actively involved at each stage of the volunteer cycle. This enables volunteer programmes to remain well-informed about local development and improves the overall impact of the programmes on local partners and their communities
  • Sharing of experiences and accessing support from other sending agencies through the peer support system and other Comhlámh supports
  • Sending agencies refine their work practices, develop effective management styles, learn how to use resources meaningfully and improve their programmes through continuous analysis; this ensures that all participants’ needs are appropriately addressed

What responsibilities do signatories to the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice have?

The ‘Code’ is a quality standard that promotes excellence in international volunteering. Volunteer sending agencies choose to become signatories to the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice to demonstrate to volunteers, overseas partners, funders and members of the public that they are seriously committed to implementing good practice in international volunteering.

As a signatory to the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice (CoGP) volunteer sending agencies have certain responsibilities. The volunteer sending agencies:

  • Make a commitment to put the 11 principles of the CoGP in place;
  • Submit a self-audit document to Comhlámh on an annual basis which gauges the extent to which they have implemented the principles above;
  • Undertake an external review of their programme with an expert consultant identified by Comhlámh approximately every three years;
  • Attend Peer Support Meetings where they have the opportunity to a) network with other volunteer sending agencies b) share tools and resources with others c) and learn about good international good practice in volunteering as it emerges;
  • Attend Issues-Based Meetings where they explore specific topics with peers and identify ways in which they can incorporate this learning into their volunteer programme;
  • Ensure all persons within their organisation understand and support the decision to be a signatory to the CoGP.
  • Publicise that the organisation is a signatory by including the CoGP logo and link to Comhlámh on their website and in other relevant materials

If you have any questions about the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice, please get in touch with Sandra at

Do all sending agencies have the same code compliance?

The organisations are either a signatory, have core indicator status or comprehensive compliance status. This shows the different levels of complying with the standards of the Code:

How we measure implementation?

The self-audit outlines forty-four indicators—or precise forms of action—a volunteer sending agency should take to ensure that the needs of the organisation, international partner(s), and international volunteer are being met. Of the forty-four indicators, eighteen have been identified as ‘core indicators’ which are considered essential to every volunteer programme.

Signatory means that the organisation shows commitment to the 11 principles of the code and are working towards implementing these principles in their programmes.

Core Indicator means that the organisation commits to the 11 principles plus implements already 18 core indicators of an effective programme. The core indicators are the ones we deem essential to run a responsible volunteering program.

Comprehensive Compliance means that the organisation commits to the 11 principles, and has a total of 37 (including the 18 core indicators) of all 44 indicators in place.

Which organisations have signed up to the Code of Good Practice?

This list is kept up to date.

Action Lesotho Signatory

Agape Adventures Signatory

AIESEC Signatory

Chernobyl Children International Signatory

Christina Noble Children’s Foundation Signatory

Development Perspectives Signatory

EAPPI    Core

Edith Wilkins  Signatory

EIL Intercultural Learning Comprehensive

(Friends of Londiani) – Brighter Communities    Comprehensive

Friends of Africa  Signatory

Give Ireland  Core

Global Schoolroom  Comprehensive

Habitat For Humanity Ireland  Comprehensive

Habitat For Humanity Northern Ireland   Signatory

Haven    Signatory

HOPE Foundation  Comprehensive

Immunisation For Life  Signatory

Irish League of Credit Union Foundation  Signatory

Irish Rule of Law International Core

Lámha Suas Signatory

Maintain Hope Signatory

Mellon Educate  Signatory

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Volunteer  Signatory

Nurture Africa   Core

Operation Smile  Signatory

Pemba Signatory

SAVIO  Signatory

SERVE Comprehensive

Suas  Comprehensive

Tearfund Comprehensive

UCDVO  Comprehensive

Umbrella Foundation  Comprehensive

Viatores Christi  Comprehensive

VIDES Signatory

VLM   Comprehensive

VMM Comprehensive

VSI   Signatory

VSO   Comprehensive

Zamda Signatory

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