Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics sets out the basic Ethical Principles for IDRF.

The IDRF Code of Ethics is derived from the Code of Ethics of CCIC (Canadian Council for International Cooperation). IDRF was actively involved as part of the CCIC Code of Ethics Committee that helped create the Code for CCIC and all its Member Organizations across Canada.

1. IDRF affirms that Development is a social, cultural, economic and political process that leads to the fulfillment of fundamental human rights. These rights have been enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent core treaties and instruments including the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

2. Development and relief must give primacy to fulfilling the rights, needs and aspirations of the world’s poorest and most marginalized peoples; they must promote the peaceful management of conflict; and must safeguard the health, diversity and resilience of the natural environment.

3. While recognizing that the primary responsibility for the protection and promotion of human rights rest with governments, IDRF supports the fulfillment of these rights through our development, relief and rehabilitation activities.

4. Based on IDRF experience, establishing strong partnerships with credible local development organizations is important in achieving development and relief outcomes.

5. Since IDRF, along with other Canadian charitable organizations, influences the public perception of our work, we share the responsibility to act in ways that enhance public trust in our activities.

General Principles

IDRF shall ensure that these General Principles are incorporated into our structure, governance and operations:

  • Human Rights: In all of our activities, IDRF shall respect and promote the human rights and dignity of all people.
  • Accountability: IDRF shall be accountable to our donors, international partners, and to the Canadian public for our contributions to international development and relief and our stewardship of resources.
  • Transparency: IDRF shall communicate openly and accurately with partners, donors, and the general public.
  • Fairness: IDRF shall practice and promote social justice and promote equity in all our activities.
  • Sustainability: In all of our projects, IDRF shall take appropriate measures to promote environmental sustainability.

Development and Relief Principles

Development and Relief should foster and promote the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. To reach this goal, they should:

  • Satisfy basic human needs;
  • Be people-centered in both purposes and distribution of benefits;
  • Address the root causes through development, and not merely the symptoms of global inequality;
  • Promote social justice through the equitable distribution of relief goods and access to development resources;
  • Enable poor, vulnerable and marginalized people to participate and improve their situation;
  • Reflect the concerns, perspectives and experience of women and enable women to realize their full rights;
  • Respect the cultural, religious, and spiritual integrity of all peoples;
  • Be environmentally sustainable, and should protect the well-being of future generations;
  • Recognize the hazards of militarism and promote peaceful solutions to international, national or local conflict.

Governance and Integrity

IDRF shall be governed fairly and responsibly by an independent, active and informed governing body that shall be the Board of Directors.

  1. All voting members of the Board shall serve without compensation, except for reasonable expenses incurred to fulfill their organizational duties.
  2. IDRF Board shall review and approve the organization’s annual budget, significant policies, key financial transactions, compensation practices, plans and programs and hold officers, committees and staff accountable for actions taken and results achieved under delegated authority.
  3. IDRF shall adopt a policy preventing and effectively managing conflict of interest situations.
  4. IDRF shall have policies prohibiting discrimination and promoting gender equality and participation of disadvantaged groups at all levels of the Organization. This does not supersede the right of IDRF to self-define when is done in compliance with the Law.
  5. IDRF Board shall periodically reassess its governing documents and objects, vision, mission, goals, priorities, alignment of resources and effectiveness through consultation and collaborative planning.
  6. The affairs of IDRF shall be conducted with integrity and transparency. IDRF shall make full, open, and accurate disclosure to the public of relevant information concerning its goals, programs, finances, activities, results, effectiveness and governance. Exceptions are personnel matters, legal matters, proprietary information and ethical and legal requirements of personal privacy.
  7. IDRF shall ensure that complaints are dealt with in a timely manner and impartially, respecting the rights of involved parties for confidentiality and disclosure.
  8. IDRF shall comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations as well as laws and regulations of provinces or municipalities in which it is based or operates. While conducting activities outside of Canada IDRF shall be aware of foreign laws and regulations governing its activities.
  9. IDRF shall oppose and shall not be a participant to any wrongdoing or financial impropriety. It shall take prompt and firm corrective action whenever and wherever wrong-doing of any kind has been committed by any member of its Board, Staff, Advisory Council, Committees, Representatives or Volunteers.


IDRF shall conduct its finances in such a way as to ensure appropriate use of funds and accountability to donors and have sound internal controls and documented financial policies and procedures.

  1. IDRF shall have an audited financial statement, conducted by a qualified, independent accountant. The audited financial statement shall comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and Requirements according to Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  2. The audited financial statement, full or summary, shall be provided to any inquirer upon written request within a reasonable time.
  3. IDRF’s administrative costs shall be kept to the minimum necessary to meet its needs. Allocation of expenditures to administration, fundraising and programs shall reflect the organizations purposes and actual activities, and shall conform to generally accepted accounting principles.
  4. IDRF shall operate according to a budget approved by its Board.
  5. It shall account for funds from the moment they are received or committed until they are used in the project or services.
  6. It shall exercise adequate internal controls over disbursements to avoid unauthorized payments.
  7. IDRF shall not have any funds that are not accounted for and shall prohibit any unaudited transactions or loans to Board Members or Staff.
  8. Contributions and donations shall be used as promised or implied in fundraising appeals, or in grant applications to funding agencies.

IDRF shall ensure that

  • there are sufficient resources for effective administration and appropriate fundraising;
  • it has annual audited financial statements and shall make them easily accessible to the public;
  • there is no conflict of interest in the management of the Finances;
  • it (and, if applicable, its Chapter or affiliates) manage its funds prudently;
  • in cases where there are available assets for investment IDRF shall have and follow an investment policy;
  • As a registered charity, IDRF shall file its Registered Charity Information Return within six (6) months of its fiscal year-end and such returns shall be complete and accurate.

Fundraising and Communication Principles

Fundraising solicitations shall be truthful, shall accurately describe IDRF’s identity, purpose, projects and need, and shall only make claims which IDRF can fulfill, and shall treat donors and potential supporters with respect. There shall be no misleading information or images (including material omissions or exaggerations of fact), nor any other communication which would tend to create a false impression or misunderstanding, and no use of high-pressure tactics in soliciting donations.

  1. IDRF shall ensure that:
    1. the public is informed of the way the Organization intends to use its donated resources;
    2. when members of the public are invited to support a specific project or purpose, they are informed in the event that donations have to be reassigned and are given an explanation of these planned alternative uses;
    3. the public is informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers or employees of IDRF;
    4. donors are encouraged to ask questions when making a donation and they are given prompt, truthful and forthright answers;
    5. donors receive appropriate acknowledgement but are not publicly identified without their consent.
  2. IDRF shall have policies and procedures to ensure that it accepts only those donations which will not compromise its ethics, program focus or other interests.
  3. shall ensure that images and texts included in all communications to the public:
    1. respect the dignity and rights of the individuals portrayed and their way of life;
    2. are accurate, balanced, truthful and representative of reality and do not generalize and mask the diversity of situations;
    3. portray local communities as active agents in their own development process and do not fuel prejudice or foster a sense of Northern superiority; and try to encourage a sense of interconnectedness and interdependence between the Canadian public and the people shown in the image or discussed in the text.
  4. IDRF shall control all fundraising activities conducted on its behalf. It shall not, directly or indirectly, pay finder’s fees, commission or percentage compensation based on contributions. When external fundraisers are used, IDRF shall have a written fundraising contract and shall avoid disproportionate private gain by those external fundraisers.
  5. IDRF shall consider the cumulative impact on the public’s perception arising from its communication messages (through images and text) and ensure that its messages do not undermine the goal of building support for long-term sustainable development.
  6. IDRF shall make its most recent financial statements, annual report, and a current list of members of its governing body easily accessible to the public.

Partnership Principles

For the purpose of this section, “partnership” refers to relations between IDRF and civil society organizations -not individuals or governments – where a mutual agreement has been established committing the Partner Organization to a set of agreed principles and actions over a specified period of time.

  1. Partnerships shall be based on a sense of common cause built on an understanding of values, beliefs, goals, objectives and constraints.
  2. Partnerships shall be backed by mutually acceptable signed agreements, demonstrating that all parties have negotiated objectives, expectations, roles, responsibilities, and contributions to the partnership.
  3. Agreements between partners shall ensure shared responsibility for attaining the negotiated goals, objectives and stated outcomes.
  4. The partnership contract should clearly state reporting requirements to ensure that development and relief funds are used as per mutual agreement.
  5. Timelines should be specified from the outset of the duration of a partnership.

IDRF is committed to partnerships principles that shall:

  • Advance and exemplify the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, social justice, equitable distribution of goods and resources, and environmental sustainability;
  • Be built on shared visions and goals for the society that is being helped;
  • Be formed in a spirit of inclusiveness that respects and promotes the value of diversity;
  • Embody equity — IDRF acknowledges that inequalities often exist as a result of power dynamics, especially in funding relations, and shall strive for equity in partnerships;
  • Should be dynamic relationships built on respect and honesty, in which partners strive for better understanding and appreciation of one another;
  • Be transparent and accountable to one another.
  • Respect one another’s autonomy and constraints and strive to foster a climate of mutual trust in partnership activities.
  • Endeavor to learn from one another and facilitate the sharing of knowledge.
  • Respect differences – including cultural, religious, socio-economic and political differences.
  • Give credit to their partners’ contributions, respect their intellectual property rights and acknowledge appropriate ownership of products and results arising from partnership initiatives.
  • Healthy partnerships are strengthened by prompt and constructive responses to differences of opinion that may arise between Organizations. IDRF shall have processes on how conflicts shall be handled.

In the event of catastrophic circumstances, such as a major shortfall in funds available for a funding partnership, IDRF shall promptly implement a mutually negotiated and agreed upon contingency plan with its partner.

When winding down a partnership, including in the event of unforeseen circumstances, IDRF shall endeavor to maintain the same standards of conduct as were agreed upon for the operations of the partnership.

Management Practices and Human Resources

IDRF shall endeavor to follow sound management and operational practices appropriate to its mission, operations and governance structure.

  1. Provide employees and volunteers with job descriptions or duties that detail the organization’s expectations.
  2. Have clear, well-defined, written policies and procedures relating to its employees and volunteers and a process for communicating these policies and procedures; and ensure that the policies clearly define and protect the rights of these individuals.
  3. Clearly describe and communicate compensation and benefits to each employee, and make financial arrangements to honour its financial commitments.
  4. Educate employees and volunteers on its Code of Ethics.