Current priorities

What is ACFID doing to promote a strong and effective civil society? 

ACFID is actively promoting a strong and effective civil society through work in four main areas: demonstrating the value of NGOs as effective development and humanitarian partners; exploring the changing role of NGOs and promoting innovation; promoting standards; and facilitating learning and development.

Promoting innovation

ACFID promotes innovation within our sector. ACFID commissioned research to look at how Australian NGOs nurture and scale up new ideas.  Innovation for Impact paints a picture of Australian NGOs who are ready to innovate, however the impact of innovation could be enhanced through a greater focus on strategy, resourcing and monitoring and evaluation.  It provides recommendations for Australian NGOs, ACFID and the Australian Government. 

The research was informed by conversations at ACFID National Conference on Innovation and Development in 2015 and given our shared interest, will also support ACFID’s engagement with the Government on its innovation agenda. ACFID is now  finalising a strategy to implement recommendations of this report to support the aid sector to better identify, nurture and embed innovation for social outcomes.  This strategy will be released in coming months.


Demonstrating the value of NGOs 

Aid and development NGOs are important civil society actors. ACFID members currently work with poor and marginalised communities in 125 countries. ACFID is engaging with the Department of Foreign Affairs on the development of an NGO Engagement Framework that sets out how Australia will work more effectively with Australia NGOs to increase the impact of aid for the world’s poorest. Read ACFID’s submission on the framework.

Exploring the changing role of NGOs

ACFID is responding to the changing role of NGOs in light of global megatrends and changes in development practice. ACFID and the La Trobe's Institute for Human Security and Social Change hosted a workshop on Changing the World, Changing Ourselves’ (background paper) in June 2015. ACFID is now working with the Institute to translate some of the ideas that emerged from this workshop into action, including a professional development program called Making Change Happen. Watch this space for more initiatives!

Engaging with the private sector

ACFID has undertaken research on how its members partner with private sector organisations for international development. Partnering for Development demonstrates the high degree of partnerships between Australian NGOs and private sector organisations, and highlights the potential for further engagement, particularly to develop ‘shared value’ projects. 


Developing a Global Standard for Civil Society Organisations

ACFID is participating in the development of a Global Standard for CSO Accountability. This three- year SIDA-funded project aims to strengthen civil society organisations’ effectiveness by developing a practice of globally aligned, strong accountability. A key deliverable of the project will be a Global Reference Standard which can then be used to align existing Codes of Conduct or to develop new Codes. Download the project proposal.

ACFID is also contributing to the development and promotion of the global Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS).  More information on this can be found on the Peace and Security current priorities page.

Ensuring the ACFID Code remains relevant, coherent, useful and credible

On December 1 2016, ACFID members agreed to a revised Code of Conduct (link). The Revised Code builds on the strengths of the current Code whilst at the same time responding to changes in our operating environment, standards of good practice and aspirations since the Code was last reviewed in 2010.

The revised Code of Conduct (link) was developed through extensive consultation over 2015-16 and will be launched on 1 June 2017.   

For more information on the revised Code of Conduct, please contact the Code of Conduct Secretariat – [email protected]

ACFID members will continue to operate under the current Code of Conduct (link) until the revised Code comes into effect. 

ACFID will work with members to improve compliance and promote good practice in relation to three standards in the Code in FY1617 i.e. child protection,  the portrayal of local people and control of funds and resources.


Learning and Development

ACFID provides a range of learning and development opportunities for staff and volunteers involved in Australian aid and development agencies. These opportunities are designed to enable staff and volunteers to improve their practice, strengthen their organisations, meet or exceed their obligations of the ACFID Code of Conduct, and contribute to wider change in the sector.

Current priorities include:

  • Improving compliance with the Code in relation to the six standards outlined in the Code section above.
  • Building capabilities in relation to how social change happens, adaptive program management, organisational design and development, gender equality, measuring and demonstrating effectiveness and impact, advocacy, campaigning, gender equity and working better with others.
  • Promoting discussion and exploring responses to the changing role of NGOs, innovation, resource mobilisation, private sector engagement and the SDGs.