The National Council for Voluntary Organisations is to develop a code of conduct for the voluntary sector.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the umbrella body, used his speech at the NCVO’s annual conference in London today to announce the initiative, which comes after the recent safeguarding crisis involving Oxfam and a host of major charities.
The code of conduct, which is to be drawn up by Dame Mary Marsh, former chief executive of the NSPCC, is expected to be designed to ensure that the voluntary sector’s values are reflected in the way it behaves and to act as an equivalent to the Nolan principles that apply to holders of public office.
It is expected to be similar to the Code of Good Governance in terms of setting out a number of principles that any organisation could pledge to follow, sending a message to the public that treating people with respect is a priority for all charities.
The final document is expected to include an overarching set of principles that reflect the aspirations and shared values of all charities, and offer a framework that will help charities to review their own policies and practices and identify where improvements might be needed.
In his speech to the NCVO annual conference today, Etherington said about the initiative: "We want this to work for every organisation, whether you are in social care, arts and heritage, international development or conservation.
"We want to make it clear to everyone that we take these issues seriously and that we aim for the highest possible standards. The cost of failure is simply too high."
The NCVO secretariat for the new code is expected to draw up a draft statement and proposed framework that will be circulated among organisations with specific expertise in this area.
After a round-table discussion with key stakeholders in 24 May, a document is expected to be published for wider consultation for a minimum of six weeks.