Ensuring quality and accountability begins with our members; from our criteria for those looking to become or remain a part of the DEC, to assessment processes throughout membership to make sure that everyone is both meeting those requirements and conforming to the DEC’s agreed ways of working. 

Our membership criteria

The DEC has formal criteria for membership which apply to both prospective and existing members.  The criteria are set and judged by the Membership and Accountability Committee of the DEC Board which is always led by an independent trustee.

Trustees have established that the DEC will have a maximum membership of 15 so that it remains manageable and cost effective. The purpose of the membership criteria is to ensure that the DEC consists of the UK’s leading aid agencies. 

To qualify as a member, organisations must meet strict governance, financial and programme quality requirements. They must also show what diversity they can add to the DEC in addition to current members, in order to extend the reach of a DEC appeal and in providing global humanitarian aid.

Existing members are subject to a three-yearly review where the membership criteria are considered alongside Secretariat scores of members’ performance, as well as an annual process for members to submit income and expenditure for the calculation of the Indicator of Capacity.

Prospective new members

In the first instance, prospective applicants for DEC membership must be able to demonstrate that they reach for the following basic criteria:

  • Be committed to charitable objectives that include responding to humanitarian emergencies and the suffering of affected communities on a wide geographical basis.
  • Have an evidenced and proven track record of effective and robust management of charitable funds in terms of finances, risk management, internal audit and value for money, including annual accounts without audit qualification.  
  • Have income from private UK donors (including donations and legacies from individuals, donations from trusts and corporations) of at least £3 million a year, averaged over three years, for funding overseas work. This is calculated in accordance with DEC’s Indicator of Capacity
  • Have direct programme expenditure overseas in highly vulnerable countries (countries at risk from humanitarian crises and disasters that could overwhelm national response capacity) of at least £12 million, of which relief operations overseas constitute at least £8 million a year, averaged over three years. This is calculated in accordance with DEC’s Indicator of Capacity.
  • Have demonstrable track record and capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies at multiple locations on a wide geographical basis.
  • Be committed to the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) and provide external assurance of measurable progress in implementation through the CHS Verification Scheme.

Prospective members who consider that they meet these criteria will go through a process of evidence-based assessment against the full DEC membership criteria.  Interested applicants can request more information on the process from the Secretariat by email.

DEC ways of working

As part of membership, member agencies are also regularly reviewed to check they have the processes and systems in place to meet the criteria and commitments they have agreed to, and are conforming to the DEC ways of working.

It is by checking processes, and not only delivery of results, that we make certain that lessons learnt get locked into the way we work in the future, allowing for continuous improvements in the way we deliver aid. 

To monitor these systems, members conduct self assessments to examine their ways of working, which are then subject to peer challenge and external validation.



DEC accountability self-assessment validation 2012-13