The Governance Code

A Code of Practice

This is a Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland which has been created for the sector by the sector.

A number of organisations, including DFI, have come together to develop a comprehensive resource, called The Governance Code, to support the understanding and implementation of the principles of good governance for Community and Voluntary Organisations.

Principles of Governance

Compliance with the Code is voluntary, and is based on engaging with principles rather than with rules. It addresses the ethical climate that prevails in organisations, providing clear guidance for identifying and measuring good governance practice and behaviour. It aims to become the standard definition of good practice for the Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland, while continuing to inform the standards that will be required by both funders and regulators.

The five principles of good governance identified are:

  1. Leading the organisation.
  2. Exercising control over the organisation.
  3. Being transparent and accountable.
  4. Working effectively.
  5. Behaving with integrity.

Each principle contains 3 sub-principles. e.g. under “Leading the Organisation”, these are:

  1. (a) Agreeing our vision, purpose and values and making sure that they remain relevant.
  2. (b) Developing, resourcing, monitoring and evaluating a plan to make sure that the organisation achieves its stated purpose.
  3. (c) Managing, supporting and holding to account staff, volunteers and all who act on behalf of the organisation.

Tools for Implementation

The Code provides a choice of checklists for implementing the principles, depending on the size and complexity of the organisation. This flexibility means that the tools are accessible and relevant to all organisations, from those with no paid staff to those with a national reach.  Organisations are classified as Type A, Type B or Type C, depending on size.  User-friendly tables are supplied which allows any organisation to systematically compare themselves to the standards outlined in the Code on a “comply or explain” basis. This quickly highlights the areas that need to be addressed in order for compliance to be achieved. Evidence of compliance can then be included on the organisation's promotional material and funding submissions. If it is not possible to make all the changes required, it is still possible to adopt the Code, by supplying an explanation of what actions were not taken and why. Organisational practice is then reviewed against the Code on an annual basis.

Building a Community

The Working Group is in the process of compiling a register of compliant organisations, as well as developing an online networking platform for sharing tips and resources among those working with the Code. The goal is to maximise the uptake of the Code's principles, guidelines and implementation tools, so providing a standardised, transparent and accessible model for continuous improvement across the sector in relation to governance.

Members of the Working Group

Boardmatch Ireland, Business in the Community Ireland, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, Clann Credo, Disability Federation of Ireland, ICTR, Volunteer Ireland, and The Wheel, in association with The Corporate Governance Association of Ireland (CGAI), Arthur Cox (Solicitor) and Sheila Cahill Consulting. Training is provided by DFI and by The Carmichael Centre Training and Support Service.

(Source: Maeve Halpin.  Maeve Halpin is a practising counsellor and Social and Organisational Psychologist, with many years’ experience in the Community and Voluntary sector, latterly as Chair of the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups. In conjunction with Maeve, DFI have launched an External Supervision and Support Service for staff and Boards of DFI member groups. More information is available at )

For more information on the governance code: see Or email:

Or contact your DFI Support Officer for details click here


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