Commitment 5.1 We respect and understand those with whom we collaborate.

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. 

5.1.1 Members work intentionally with others in mutually respectful ways.


Policy, statement or guidance document that commits the Member to working in mutually respectful ways.


Members will have different approaches to this depending on their values and culture. A helpful guide to partnership and partnering principles can be found on The Partnering Initiative website. A good example of an ACFID member’s approach to working with others, Oxfam's Partnership Principles, can be found in the Resources Section below.  

Download and read ACFID's Collaboration guidance note from the resources section below for some guidance on the different forms that collaboration may take. You may also wish to download and read ACFID's guide to developing and managing partnerships for some practical tools and guidance to use in identifying and working with partners, and the different lifecycle stages of a partnership. 

5.1.2 Members undertake due diligence and capacity assessments of organisations with whom they work in formal partnerships.


A documented assessment process that includes:

  • Alignment with Members’ values and objectives.
  • Governance and legal registration.
  • Financial systems.
  • Reference checks of partners against prohibited entities listings.
  • Capacity assessment for implementation of key safeguarding and risk policies (e.g. child protection and prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment).


Undertaking due diligence and capacity assessments is a mechanism that enables Members to identify potential strengths and risks and inform their approach to working with partners. Some organisations may choose to combine due diligence and capacity assessment in one tool, or tackle these as separate processes. Due diligence would normally be undertaken prior to initiating an agreement with a partner, whereas an assessment of capacity can be undertaken at different stages of a partnership – including prior to an agreement, during project delivery, or if changes to the partnership occur. The findings of these assessments should guide a Member’s approach to working with its partners, identify any areas of strength and risk and include the development of a capacity-strengthening plan that is jointly agreed with its partners.

Child protection and the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment is a critical area of assessment to ensure our partners ‘do no harm’ either intentionally or unintentionally, and therefore should be explicitly included in any due diligence and capacity assessment tool.

You may also wish to download and read ACFID's guide to developing and managing partnerships for some of the key considerations in identifying and working with partners, as well as ACFID's partnership agreement template which provides an example of an MOU or other agreement that you could customise and use as appropriate to the partners that your organisation works with. 

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.

  • Specialised partnership staff are in place.
  • Joint capacity assessment and re-assessment is undertaken with partners, extended to areas such as human resources, project cycle management systems, risk management, financial management and policy compliance, and safeguarding of children and those vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • Regular partner and/or collaborator meetings take place where open feedback and dialogue is facilitated.
  • The role of their partners and attribution for their work, is identified and promoted to the public and external stakeholders.


Good Practice Guidance

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

Governance and strategy

  • Articulate the principles of partnership in all of your organisation’s key documents such as statements of vision, mission and values, and strategic frameworks
  • Include performance indicators and targets related to partnership in key documents such as your strategic framework, and operations, business and work plans.
  • Ensure the board, management committee or senior management monitors these performance indicators and targets to ensure accountability.
  • Include orientation to the importance of partnership and the attitudes required to promote strong and effective partnerships in the induction of board members.
  • Develop governance and strategy-development processes that include partners in some way.  For example, at program level, establish a clear mechanism to jointly govern operational decisions.  At an organisational level, jointly develop strategies with partners. Or, at global level, think about including partners in governance processes through yearly consultative councils, periodic relationship “health checks”, etc.  

Policy and procedures

  • Develop a policy statement on approaches to partnership which includes:
    • Recognition and respect for the strengths and unique skills of each partner
    • The centrality of partners and partnership to effective development
    • Mutuality of contribution and learning
  • Communicate this policy to staff, partners and supporters.
  • Integrate partners and their roles into all relevant phases of the project cycle:
    • Role of the partner in project identification;
    • Role of the partner in project design;
    • Role of the partner in project implementation;
    • Role of the partner in project monitoring, reporting and evaluation, including reflections and lessons learnt forums;
    • Role of the partner in engaging community in each of the above.
    • Role of the partner in influencing advocacy initiatives.
  • Where a partner has several other like-minded partners, joint capacity assessments may be undertaken to reduce burden.
  • Design procedures for establishing relations with partners – partner agreements, project agreements, etc., ensuring that these mechanisms are suitable for an “authentic” partnership.
  • Identify mandatory policies that you will expect your partner to have or to develop, including those that cover child safeguarding and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Engagement with Partners

  • Commit to understanding your partners’ broader mandate and work
  • Provide opportunities for partners to understand your broader mandate and work
  • Choose methods of communication taking into account power imbalances, language and cultural barriers and accessibility of information
  • Invest time and resources in your partners’ broader mandate and strategy and capacity beyond specific projects considering for example non-project grants for training, systems development, etc.
  • Host staff secondments from and between partner organisations
  • Link partners to your own development networks to assist their broader mandate
  • Develop a joint agreement on the elements of effective partnership and how to manage any conflicts that may arise
  • Share partnership performance indicators and progress towards targets with your partners
  • Undertake two-way performance assessments where partners assess each other’s performance together
  • Train your own staff and partner staff on the importance of partnership and the attitudes required to promote strong and effective partnerships
  • Develop and ensure that all staff have the necessary personal and interpersonal skills, attitudes and behaviours to listen and receive feedback
  • Give partners the opportunity to respond and edit any marketing materials representing their organisation or their work prior to publication
  • Design and communicate compliance requirements in a way that recognises joint responsibility for compliance, builds trust and respect, and recognises partners’ strengths and contributions.
  • Support partners to develop and implement safeguarding policies, including a child protection policy and a prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse policy.
  • Negotiate and discuss any changes to funding arrangements with partners before implementation and in a way that takes the needs of the project and communities into account.
  • Encourage staff to recognise opportunities to learn from your partners
  • Ending partnerships well is important. Provide appropriate notice when you are planning to end funding, either at the conclusion of an agreed project or due to other factors
  • After ending long-term partnerships consider a jointly arranged event to celebrate all that has been achieved through the partnership.
  • Develop together with partners, a process for assessing and understanding the capacity of each partner.
  • Allow for two-way assessments and self-assessments focusing on reflection, learning and capacity-strengthening rather than assessment of competency
  • Use the assessments to create plans to strengthen the capacity of both partners