If you are involved with a Volunteer Sending Agency (VSA) based on the island of Ireland, we invite you to contact us to discuss how you can join the Code and our community of practice.

WHO Can Join the Code of Good Practice?

Any Volunteer Sending Agency that:

  • is legally registered in Ireland or Northern Ireland,
  • operates on a not-for-profit basis, and
  • has been actively sending volunteers abroad for at least a year,

can join Comhlámh’s Code of Good Practice.

Our community welcomes VSAs who are willing to learn, share experiences, and who are open to reflection and change.

WHY Should You Join the Code of Good Practice?

Comhlamh Code of Good Practice facilitates learning, promotes critical reflection and supports organisations to seek out emerging ways of being and doing. Our network provides a space for peer exchange and supports collective action to address harmful practices and promote positive change. Code members benefit from training and capacity building opportunities.

Commitment to Good Practice

Code Membership demonstrates a public commitment to sector-led good practice, providing credibility for volunteers, funders and the wider public.


Irish Aid, the national network of Volunteer Centres, Volunteer Ireland, and StudentVolunteer.ie, among others, recognise the ongoing dedicated work of Code members. These organisations have committed to supporting and promoting only international volunteering opportunities offered by Code members.


The Code network has also, over the years, supported and inspired international organisations and networks to reflect on and adapt their international volunteering programmes.

HOW to Join the Code of Good Practice

When we identify groups active in international volunteering and social action, we typically work with them for a few months to see if they meet the requirements for Code membership. We also may help them build their capacity to join the Code, through training and mentoring.

The Code membership criteria that Volunteer Sending Agencies must fulfil include:

  • Not-for-profit status;
  • Being legally registered in Ireland or Northern Ireland for over a year;
  • Sending volunteers on international placements for at least a year;
  • Involvement in work that is aligned with the values of the Code;
  • Having a focus on Global Citizenship Education methodologies/approaches;
  • Commitment to child-safe volunteering;
  • Showing a real and meaningful commitment to integrating values and principles of the Code within their volunteer programmes.
If you have any questions about joining the Code, please contact Fiachra@comhlamh.org.

Living the Code of Good Practice

Organisations that join the Code are invited to submit an initial self-assessment. As part of this process, there is a requirement to reflect on work under each principle and indicator and to provide evidence in support of this.

Comhlámh Code of Good Practice:
The Assessment Process

For new signatories

  • The Code and Suggested Evidence: The Code of Good Practice document identifies key areas for organisations to consider when reflecting on their work and provides a list of suggested evidence. This is submitted to Comhlámh, who will review it and provide feedback.
  • Action Plan and Critical Reflection: Comhlámh works with the organisation to develop an action plan for the next 12 months. This process is open, collaborative and requires a willingness to learn and engage in critical reflection. It is not a test – the Code exists to support organisations on their journey of good practice.
  • Holistic Annual Review Process: Following the initial self-assessment, organisations are required to engage in an annual review process. This includes the completion of a Holistic Annual Review, the participation in a yearly progress meeting with Comhlámh, and the development of a joint action plan, which identifies gaps, challenges, and opportunities for improvement over the next 12 months.

Communities of Practice

The assessment and review process is supported by vibrant communities of practice. Code signatories are invited to join and contribute to the various Code working groups to contribute to and participate in peer learning, training, and capacity building opportunities. In addition, signatories are required to attend two annual peer support meetings. Further information about each is available below.

Peer Support Meetings

Twice a year, the entire Code network gathers to reflect on practice, explore new areas and hear from experts in the sector. These meetings are a key support to Volunteer Sending Agencies as they work to implement the values and principles of the Code of Good Practice.

Code Steering Committee

Since the Code was established, this group has played a vital role in deepening practice and shaping responses to changing contexts for international volunteering. Members lead the Code review process that takes place every three to four years, shape the peer support meetings, and contribute to shaping the strategic direction for the community of practice.


This group meets twice a year and works to enhance the capacity of Code of Good Practice Network VSAs to engage with returned volunteers through Global Citizenship Education.

End Orphanage Volunteering Working Group

This group, co-convened by Comhlámh and Tearfund Ireland, works to end orphanage volunteering and institutionalisation. It has attracted over 40 endorsements for the ‘Put Children First: End Orphanage Care’ campaign, presented to TDs and Senators at the Dáil, gained national media coverage for the issue of volunteering in orphanages, and made substantive progress toward key policy recommendations with decision-makers.


This group focuses on ensuring that safeguarding and child-safe volunteering are at the heart of VSAs’ work. Working with external experts as needed, they challenge and support the broader network to lead on safeguarding and addressing power imbalances whenever they arise. In the past the group has provided guidance and advocacy on issues of background checks and insurance; provided training to the Code Network; re-written the Code Safeguarding Principle, and delivered a series of Safeguarding Conversations.This group meets twice a year and works to enhance the capacity of Code of Good Practice Network VSAs to engage with returned volunteers through Global Citizenship Education.

To get involved in or/and learn more about the above groups, please contact Fiachra@comhlamh.org.

Want to Dig Deeper?

Become a Member

Join the growing Comhlámh community of like-minded people interested in activism.

Join Member Groups

Join us as a Member and get involved in one of our groups active on global and social justice issues.

Watch First Wednesdays

Join our First Wednesdays conversations, explore the linkages between local and global justice issues.