Commitment 3.2 We contribute to systemic change.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

3.2.1 Members build on and enhance the existing strengths and capacities of primary stakeholders.


Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of capacity building initiatives in response to the priorities of primary stakeholders.


Your initiatives could include: jointly identifying with primary stakeholders their existing strengths, risk/vulnerabilities and capacity gaps and their own priorities for capacity strengthening, and jointly developing actions and providing resources to build their capacity through for example, formal training or academic courses, mentoring, exchange visits, the provision of educational or functional resources.

3.2.2 Members work with local systems and structures such as institutions, civil society, community structures and authorities (where appropriate) to support and strengthen local people and systems.


Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of working with local systems and structures.


Where possible and appropriate, it is preferable to work with local systems and structures rather than establishing new or parallel systems and structures which may not be sustainable or undermine existing systems and structures. Working with or mobilising government or other authorities can be an effective strategy towards sustainable and systemic change, but it may not always be appropriate or beneficial - this needs to be assessed for each context.

Your initiatives could include: supporting partners or your own agency to work with government ministries or departments at the national, provincial or local levels, working in alignment with or supporting the development of government policies, strategies or priorities, working with or supporting indigenous NGOs or civil society organisations, supporting established (but perhaps not fully functioning) community structures such as village development committees or farmers’ groups, working through or supporting local church structures (where appropriate to your organisation or the context). 

3.2.3 Members that undertake advocacy and/or campaigning, support initiatives that are evidence- based, accurate and reflect the perspectives of primary stakeholders.


This indicator and verifiers are relevant only to Members which undertake advocacy and/or campaigning.

  • Policy, statement or guideline document that covers the following:
    • advocacy does not do harm or increase the level of risk facing affected groups;
    • advocacy is evidence-based and accurate;
    • advocacy messages reflect the perspectives of the affected population.
  • Design or planning framework, tools, templates or approaches which show evidence of the analysis of risks associated with advocacy initiatives, with a particular focus on the safety and rights of primary stakeholders. 


Having a formal document which outlines your approaches to advocacy helps to establish your organisations commitment to responsible and effective advocacy practices and ensures a shared understanding amongst your staff and other stakeholders.

Your policy, statement or guidance document could include: an outline of the principles underpinning your organisations approaches to responsible and effective advocacy; an outline of the procedures or practices required to ensure the following: analysis of potential risks to primary stakeholders associated with an advocacy campaign; the importance of evidence based advocacy and how this evidence will be sought; and the methods to be used to seek the perspectives of primary stakeholders and (where appropriate and safe) how their voices will be enabled through the campaign.

Your design or planning framework, tools and templates could include: explicit sub sections or prompts in the design document template relating to analysis of the potential risks to primary stakeholders associated with an advocacy campaign, the evidence base informing the advocacy messages and how primary stakeholders perspectives have been sought and (where appropriate and safe) how their voices will be enabled through the campaign. 

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • Diverse stakeholders groups are brought together to engage on change management processes
  • Collaboration with other organisations on intersecting issues is undertaken at national and international levels . 
  • Periodic reports are provided internally and to relevant primary stakeholders on the outcomes of advocacy work.
  • Activities are undertaken to strengthen the capacity of marginalized groups to participate in multi-stakeholder processes.


Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Strengths Based Approach

  • Utilise tools and methodologies that identifies the existing strengths, abilities and assets of primary stakeholders. This is sometimes referred to as Asset Based Community Development or taking a ‘strengths-based approach’.
  • Use a wide range of community engagement tools to draw on as broad as representation of community members as possible to build a community vision and plan.
  • Support primary stakeholders to monitor their own progress in achieving their vision and plan.
  • Provide training to staff and partners on the difference between a needs based approach and a strengths based approach to development. 

Systems Approach

  • Recognise that most development challenges involve multiple stakeholders and processes that interact together in a system, and also impact on multiple systems.
  • Recognise that solutions to development challenges are usually multi disciplinary
  • Dedicate reasonable resources and expertise to understanding the systems that interact with a development challenge in order to identify the most appropriate and effective development intervention
  • Bring together stakeholders from a diverse range of environments to better understand development challenges
  • Collaborate with many different actors, across sectors and across all parts of the system.
  • Experiment with interventions on a small scale, and continue to adapt them in response to continuous learning and analysis. 

Organisational Approach to Advocacy

  • Create and document a policy that defines advocacy, sets out your organisation’s advocacy objectives, and outlines the principles that your organization will be bound by when undertaking advocacy.
  • Set performance targets at a strategic or organisational level related to advocacy and ensure progress against these targets is tracked overtime. This could be through the development of an Advocacy Plan that is reviewed on an annual basis.
  • Appoint a person within your organisation with expertise in advocacy.
  • Include an overview of the organisation’s approach to advocacy in the induction of all new staff
  • Document a toolkit and guidelines to support staff in undertaking advocacy.
  • Provide formal training for relevant staff on how to undertake advocacy effectively
  • Promote your advocacy activities on your website and in newsletters or similar
  • Monitor, review and report internally and externally on your advocacy achievements; this includes reporting of performance against key advocacy indicators

Advocacy Initiatives

  • Collaborate with organisations that focus on and have expertise in advocacy
  • Use rigorous research methodologies and processes to inform advocacy activities.
  • Consider confidential representation and diplomacy as a mechanism to persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act in the interests of vulnerable people
  • Consider public forms of advocacy such as information and education campaigns.
  • Assess the potential for advocacy to bring your organisation into conflict with authorities, organisations or individuals and the consequences of this potential conflict on your organisation, your partners and primary stakeholders.
  • Undertake risk assessments to ensure they advocacy initiatives do not create undue risk to partners and other stakeholders
  • Where there is any risk of harm to primary stakeholders, ensure that those stakeholders are fully informed and consent to the advocacy activities and create mitigation strategies to protect primary stakeholders.
  • Support the active participation of partners and community members in planning, decision-making and undertaking advocacy activities where appropriate to do so
  • Assist partners to develop their own advocacy policies and plans