Quality and accountability in the delivery of humanitarian assistance funded from DEC appeal funds begins with our members. This is covered through the criteria for those looking to become or remain a part of the DEC; the assessment processes to check that members are meeting the criteria, including conformity with the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability; and other reviews and requests for evidence from members that all membership requirements are met.

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 eligibility criteria:

  • Registered for at least five years with The Charity Commission as a UK charitable company or charitable incorporated organisation.
  • Have charitable objects that include responding to humanitarian emergencies and the suffering of affected communities through direct operations and/or in partnership with local organisations on a wide geographical basis.
  • Be committed to humanitarian principles and be able to deliver humanitarian assistance impartially, independently and without the influence of governments or donors. Members must have a civil society delivery arm. Non-governmental charitable criteria required of DEC members in the UK is also required of local affiliates and partners. 
  • Be sufficiently independent of any parent or sister organisation to be able to influence where and how DEC funds are spent and to ensure full accountability for the expenditure of those funds.
  • Have income from private UK donors (including donations and legacies from individuals, donations from trusts and corporations) of at least £3 million a year for overseas work averaged over three years.
  • 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 the DEC's Indicator of Capacity.
  • Be a signatory to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief.
  • Be committed to the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) and have passed a recent audit under 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.

For more information on the DEC Accountability Framework, including other membership requirements, click here.