How will the new NCVO charity ethical principles apply to agencies?

Last week, The National Council for Voluntary Organisations published a new set of charity ethical principles to assist charity organisations in the areas of decision-making and the development of relevant policies.

Devised with an advisory group of large and small charities this code of ethics has been established to help guide rather than dictate how charities should act in certain situations.

As a creative agency who works with lots of different charity clients, we explore the different principles and how they apply to our client communications.


What are the four key principles?



Charities are advised to put their beneficiaries before all other interests. Often this is the top of everyone’s agenda when planning the communications for the year.

The beneficiary and how their stories are told are at the forefront of ours and the clients minds. This is how potential or existing supporters learn more about the important work that the charity carries out.

The ways we communicate the need of the beneficiary to existing supporters and the wider public is through the use of different case studies. The strength of the story is the driving force behind our favourite campaigns that we have worked on, and are the campaigns which prove to be most successful.



The NCVO defines Integrity as:

“Exercising due diligence in understanding the ethical standards of commercial partners and individuals, to seek support or collaboration from those with ethical values that are consistent with those of the charity.”

As the ‘commercial partner’ in this scenario, Campfire strongly believes in the co-creation and democracy of ideas.

For us, this means immersing ourselves in the culture and understanding the ethics of our clients by coming together to collaborate and exploring how we communicate.

Through workshops and panels we relish any opportunity to bounce ideas off one another and get to know what is important to the charity client.

This is integral to how charity and agency strive towards that one common goal – reaching the right people, in the right way.



Facts & figures are vitally important in conveying to donors or potential supporters how much of their money goes towards the beneficiary. From traditional direct marketing channels to digital content, this same principle applies.

Without such stats, why should someone trust a charity, if they don’t have any tangible figures to support what they are saying?

A transparent approach which allows donors and supporters a better understanding of how charities work and how funds are spent can be an asset to a campaign, rather than a hindrance.

Having such figures woven throughout the copy gives the charity credibility, communicates which areas further resource is needed and ultimately, provides more of a reason for people to offer their support.


Right to be safe

According to the NCVO, all charities have a responsibility to create an inclusive culture and be treated with dignity and respect.

We feel this is an important principle to follow and apply to our own ethos.

Treating each other with respect and giving everyone a platform to promote ideas, means we get the best out of our people.

It allows us to cultivate creativity and without such an inclusive culture, we would not achieve the high standard of creative work that we have, or will continue to produce in the future.


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