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Spotlight on the Code – Truthful and ethical communications

Mar 21, 2019 | ACFID Blog

ACFID 2022-23 Supplementary Federal Budget Analysis

ACFID is continuing its Spotlight on the Code of Conduct series, this time shining a light on Quality Principle (QP) 6 of ACFID’s Code of Conduct, all about…communications!

Communications are not just important for marketing, but critical for our members’ overall approach to accountability and transparency. No matter the size of our organisation, communications helps to build and maintain trust with stakeholders, including the communities in which we work.

QP 6 acknowledges the great responsibility and power that comes with sharing the stories and images of others. At the heart of QP 6 is an emphasis on collecting and using information ethically, focusing on protecting and respecting those whose stories and images are being shared.

ACFID’s members are asked to have documented requirements for the collection of information, images and stories, and a framework that supports ethical decision-making in communications. These cover expectations around consent, harm minimisation, privacy and right to information.

QP 6 also recognises the importance of having truthful communications. ACFIDs’ members are required to accurately describe their organisation and its work in all their public materials. This includes acknowledging the role of partners, and ensuring communications reflect their organisational values and purpose. The standards also reflect the need to have documented protocols for the approval of public materials, to safeguard against potential risks and maintain consistency.

The requirements for truthful communications also extend to statements about other ACFID members. Misinformation or negative information about one NGO is a potential risk to the sector as a whole. However, this does not negate the use of a responsible complaint mechanism where a legitimate concern with another NGO arises.

QP 6 is implemented through two commitments: 

These commitments also reference the ACFID Fundraising Charter, articulated in Quality Principle 8 and members’ privacy policies.

In making these commitments our members are contributing to their overall development and humanitarian goals and building trust and credibility with all stakeholders.

As part of this #CodeSpolight, we draw upon best practice from ACFID’s members – large and small – and provide some tools and guidance to bring QP6 to life.

What’s coming up in this Spotlight?

  • Time poor? Want to connect with up-to-date research and thinking about NGO communications worldwide? Check out our list of the top resources for those looking to rethink or review their communications strategies. Coming soon on ACFID’s blog.
  • Stay tuned for new guidance around how to develop an ethical decision-making framework for communications, one of the Code requirements. This practical, ‘how-to’ guide will help members to develop a framework that suits their organisation and explain what it might look like in practice. Coming in April.
  • A final blog piece by ACFID’s Head of Government Relations and Communications, Tim Watkin, delves into what can sometimes be a challenging issue – communications in humanitarian crises. Coming soon!

We hope you enjoy turning the spotlight on QP6 with us. As always, we welcome your feedback, ideas and input for this and future Spotlight instalments. Feel free to connect with the Standards and Code team at any time on [email protected] or (02) 8123 2237.

Emily Moreton

Emily Moreton

Emily Moreton is a member of ACFID’s Standards and Code team which manages ACFID’s Code of Conduct, providing support and guidance to members. Prior to working at ACFID Emily spent time in Sulawesi, Indonesia as a teacher trainer in local schools, after many years as a primary school teacher in NSW. Emily is currently completing a Master of Applied Anthropology and Development at ANU.  

Simon holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Murdoch University in Western Australia and a Bachelor’s Degree (with Honours) in economic development and political science from the University of Sydney.

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