Standards governing the operational, financial and ethical codes of conduct for members of InterAction, the largest organization of U.S. development and relief non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were updated in February 2013.  Setting standards of practice that reflect the impact and the complexity of member groups’ work around the world, the private voluntary organization (PVO) standards “link members in the common pursuit of a set of values and ethical code of conduct.”  Almost 200 U.S.-based NGOs will certify that they comply with the standards, which started in the early 1990s and are updated every two years.

InterAction’s PVO standards are a set of guidelines and best practices covering aid program management, organizational governance and structure, and financial reporting for all of its members.  For example, when responding to a food crisis, it encourages members to work closely with other NGOs, but also with multilateral agencies like the United Nations, local communities and governments, and other key stakeholders “to determine the most appropriate types and quantities of food aid, the most efficient supply chain management and those most in need.”  It also promotes the principles of the Sphere Project, an effort that brings a wide range of humanitarian actors together to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance during or after a natural disaster or armed conflict.

The 2013 InterAction’s PVO standards state:

  • “A member shall make its best efforts to ensure that assistance is provided on a nondiscriminatory basis. To the maximum extent possible, disaster response should be treated as a humanitarian and nonpolitical matter.” (p. 11)

  • “Agencies engaged in disaster response will be guided and informed by the Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.” (p. 11)

  • “The organization shall oppose and shall not be a willing party to wrongdoing, terrorism, corruption, bribery, other financial impropriety or illegal acts in any of its activities.” (p. 5)

  • “An organization’s communications shall respect the dignity, values, history, religion and culture of the people served by the programs.” (p. 7)