How to take part

The first step is to be awarded the certification by EACEA (Educational Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency). This certification aims to guarantee competence quality and the responsibility of the organisations involved (both sending and hosting) during volunteer management, to ensure correct programme implementation and a positive experience for the volunteers.

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The players involved

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative targets citizens, not-for-profit organisations and public institutions active in the humanitarian aid sector, with headquarters in Europe or in countries outside the European Union. The players involved may be subdivided into sending organisations, hosting organisations and volunteers, depending on the type of project the players are taking part in as well as their role.

An aspiring entity must be certified and have its headquarters in the EU in order to become a sending organisation. Those eligible are:

  • non-governmental not-for-profit organisations set up in an EU member state;
  • civilian public law bodies belonging to a member state;
  • international federations of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent societies.

Sending organisations can be involved in Technical Assistance projects in order to receive help during the certification process and/or to support other organisations in reinforcing standards and becoming a sending organisation. In addition, once certified, they may manage the sending of volunteers within Deployment projects.


Hosting organisations have offices in any nation outside of the European Union and where humanitarian aid operations take place. These may be:

  • non-governmental not-for-profit organisations operating or set up in a non-EU country;
  • civilian public law bodies governed by the laws of that non-EU country;
  • international bodies and agencies.

A certification is necessary in order to become a hosting organisation. A potential hosting organisation may be involved in Capacity Building projects for support during the certification process. Once certified, it can host volunteers at its facilities through a Deployment project.


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Standards and guidelines

In order to gain certification and take part in calls for project proposals, interested organisations must meet 17 quality standards, encompassing 3 different categories: legislative framework, sending and hosting partnerships, volunteer management.

By achieving the 17 standards set by the European Union, the aspiring organisation shows that: it complies with specific regulations and respects safety and prevention procedures; it ensures transparent selection and management of volunteers, guaranteeing them adequate living and working conditions during the entire deployment period; it is capable of establishing and upholding partnerships, which are vital to supporting a volunteer during all phases of volunteer activities and to the success of a programme.

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Legal framework

The first 5 standards required by the initiative concern policies and procedures that must be acquired by sending and hosting organisations, and demonstrated by providing certain documents, when requested. These focus on safety, security and protection measures safeguarding the volunteers and staff involved in the projects implemented.

Requirements for the organizations on legal framework



5 Standard

Standard 1


A safety and security plan is required to guarantee protection of the volunteers and staff, and to prevent and deal with any accident/incident or external event that might harm the physical wellbeing of these people. This has to provide specific measures and procedures to minimise and/or avoid the impact of identified risks, such as evacuation plans, context assessment, and role and responsibility specification. Organisations must be able to answer these questions:

  • What are the main risks in the host country (kidnappings, floods, fires…)?
  • What measures should be observed to prevent these?
  • What conduct should be adopted if faced with an accident/incident?
  • Which procedures should be followed?
  • Who should I contact in the event of an accident/incident?
  • Where can I find up-to-date information on the host country’s situation?
  • What behaviour should be avoided?

Standard 2


The organisations concerned shall uphold a zero tolerance stance to any kind of discrimination, offering all the people involved in the programme equal, fair and transparent access to the various opportunities. Thus the organisations must develop and implement equal opportunities and non-discrimination policies.

  • What forms of discrimination might exist in the country?
  • What measures are adopted to avoid these (training, briefing…)?
  • Are we in line with national and European legislation?
  • Who should I contact if a standard is not respected?
  • How does the staff and volunteer selection and recruiting process take place?

Standard 3


In light of the increased risk that vulnerable individuals are exposed to, the organisations commit themselves to protecting them, introducing strategies to minimize risks and to provide a safe, appropriate and respectful environment for beneficiaries, volunteers and the whole staff.

  • What risks are the vulnerable groups in the areas we operate in exposed to?
  • How can I report abuse if it occurs?
  • What prevention measures can I adopt (behaviour to avoid, training and awareness courses, frequent checks and monitoring, careful staff selection…)?
  • How should abuse victims be assisted? And what conduct should be shown towards the accused?

Standard 4


The initiative requires the sending and hosting organisations to guarantee and protect the volunteers’ health and physical wellbeing. Therefore the organisations must ensure prevention, information, training, assistance and task-monitoring measures.

  • What are the main health risks in the host country?
  • What action should be undertaken to avoid contracting disease or illness (vaccines, preventive treatment, good practices…)?
  • What measures should be observed to avoid burnout?
  • Who can I turn to for psychological support?
  • Which safe hospitals and/or clinics can I turn to?
  • What does my insurance cover?

Standard 5


The programme candidates’ and the volunteers’ personal data collected during the selection process, training and activity implementation in the field must be handled in accordance with the data protection laws in force, in order to avoid any fine, reputation loss or suspension from operations resulting from non-compliance with the European personal data regulations.

  • Do we comply with the European directive and data protection regulations regarding our staff, our volunteers and our beneficiaries?
  • How do we ensure prevention of inappropriate personal data use?
  • How do we control and monitor that inappropriate use does not occur?

Checklist for your organization on legal framework

To do
You have all the required requirements
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In order to take part in an EU Aid Volunteers call for proposals, organisations must form partnerships to suit the project purpose. In the case of Technical Assistance, partnerships are between European organisations; for Capacity Building and Deployment, they are made up of sending and hosting organisations and/or organisations specialised in any area pertinent to the project goals or actions. These latter participate as associates, contributing by reinforcing the implemented action through their specific skills.

Requirements for the organizations on partnership



1 Standard

Standard 6


Sending and hosting organisations must establish an agreement to govern the projects involving volunteer deployment in third countries. An action framework must be drawn up to manage the pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment phases; this also oversees respect for certain requirements and principles, such as equality, shared values and vision, transparency, responsibility, accountability and reliability, mutual trust, respect, complementarity, flexibility, adaptability and reciprocity.

Checklist for your organization on partnership

To do
You have all the required requirements
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Volunteering management cycle

The heart of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative is the selection, training and sending of European volunteers as part of humanitarian aid projects in third countries. This is why efficient management of the pre-departure, deployment and return-to-base phases requires specific procedures and respect for standards to ensure their quality and transparency.

Requirements for the organizations on volunteer management



11 Standard

Standard 7

Volunteer task assignments and selection

Adequate definition of the hosting organisation’s needs enables the most suitable person to be selected and the most effective activity implementation to be achieved. The programme requires the hosting and sending organisations to work together to detail the profile and skills asked of the EU Aid Volunteers to be considered during selection, also identifying any further learning or coaching requirements that might be necessary.

Standard 8

Learning and development plan

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative considers both acquiring skills during deployment and identifying the results achieved by the volunteers as fundamental aspects. Thus organisations must see to creation of a learning and development plan that sets out the volunteer’s situation before, during and after the experience.

Standard 9

Procedures for pre-deployment preparation of EU Aid Volunteers

The sending organisation must ensure that volunteers receive thorough training before deployment begins, and that they have access to all the main tools, know how to use these and understand how to respect all the required procedures, particularly those concerning safety. The organisation must also specify a contact person for the volunteers to turn to during their time with the organisation.

Standard 10


The EU Aid Volunteers initiative also offers the opportunity of an apprenticeship phase at the sending organisation’s offices, during which period the volunteer’s real knowledge and abilities may be assessed. Pinpointing a volunteer’s weaknesses and gaps in expertise in a ‘safe context’ can help the organisation to foresee any potential problems and to provide a better approach and good practices.

Standard 11

Performance management

Monitoring the volunteers during the various moments of their experience encourages their integration within the organisations. This aspect involves setting up more or less structured periodical activities (meetings, result assessment, etc.) to support and further the volunteers’ development within the organisations.

Standard 12

Professional and social recognition

There are many different ways to recognise and reward work within an organisation. These include promoting channels for volunteer involvement in decision-making processes, in training activities and in participation at commemorative events, and the reporting of further volunteering and/or working opportunities.

Standard 13

Living conditions

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative covers the costs of travel, compulsory vaccinations, visas, accommodation and ensures efficient management of any risks connected with health, safety or security. The sending organisation must guarantee that suitable living conditions are provided. It is also responsible for purchasing airline tickets, providing logistics support for visas, and paying ‘pocket money’ to the volunteer; this latter sum is set by the EU, depending on the host country’s cost of living.

Standard 14

Working conditions

The sending organisation must ensure adequate working conditions allowing the volunteers to carry out their tasks in a safe and healthy environment, guaranteeing their wellbeing and motivation (e.g. maximum 40 hours per working week, 2 days’ leave per month). The volunteer must also have access to a mentor in the hosting organisation to turn to for any type of professional assistance.

Standard 15

Contract with the volunteer

The initiative requires the drawing up of a contract between the sending organisation and the volunteer. This should set out all the obligations and responsibilities, clarify rights and duties, and specify the method for resolving any controversy that might arise. In addition, the contract stands as the volunteer’s commitment to the mission and to the organisation’s values.

Standard 16

Integrity and code of conduct

The code of conduct includes a series of commitments connected with the personal and professional behaviour that all organisation members (volunteers too) must respect. The main aim of this code is to harmonise an organisation’s mission, values and principles with the regulations governing its members’ personal and professional conduct

Standard 17


Upon the volunteer’s return to base, debriefing should take place for the purpose of: gaining feedback on the initiative; finalising the learning and development plan; making the volunteer aware of options and opportunities to continue his/her commitment in the humanitarian aid sector and active European citizenship.

Checklist for your organization on volunteer management

To do
You have all the required requirements
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The certification process

Procedure: The certification process consists of creating and filling out an eForm (an online form) through the EACEA portal for this purpose; certain documents have to be attached, as do a declaration on honour, a description of experience in the humanitarian sector and compilation of a self-assessment form. In the case of a hosting organisation, reference letters must also be attached. The other compulsory and optional documents required with the self-assessment form are to be emailed to EACEA, stating as the email object the identification code supplied by the system when the eForm is submitted.


Registration in the participant portal (link here) and possession of an identification code (PIC) are essential in order to create an eForm. Once the code is obtained, the applicant should access the EACEA section on funding and certification ( ), and then proceed, using the guidelines for support if necessary, to creating and filling out the eForm, attaching the required documents (these depend on the organisation’s role). The documents may be attached in any of the European Union’s official languages.


Deadline: The certification application may be submitted at any time during the year. A deadline is currently set for 30 September 2020, coinciding with the closure of the present framework programme, but the next deadline will soon be announced.


Certification outcome: EACEA will announce its decision within six months of receiving the certification application. Should assessment be negative, the organisation may re-apply only 12 months after the date of EACEA’s rejection. However, during this 12-month period, the organisation may make use of the Technical Assistance and Capacity Building programmes.


Organisations must obtain certification every 3 years, showing that they still comply with the standards. The re-certification process comprises a self-declaration on any changes regarding the required standards plus any relative supporting documentation (eg. the changes to the European privacy directive in 2018 triggered revisions of internal policies on data protection).

The certification mechanism for sending organisations

If you want to be a sending organisation for EU humanitarian aid volunteers, the certification process involves self-assessment based on ‘evidence’, by submitting documents and policies adopted by the organisation.

The e-form contains a series of mandatory annexes, which you can read in the list below.

Once the eForm has been submitted, the candidate receives a reference number; this should be used to send an email to EACEA containing the compulsory documentation required to satisfy the standards, plus further optional documents (e.g. object: Attachments for application XXXXXX – EUAV- 1-201X-1-XX-EUAV-CERT).

If the organisation is already a DG ECHO partner, it is exempt from submitting certain compulsory documents (sections 2 and 3 of the self-assessment form) as under the existing framework agreement; it should however quote the FPA (Framework Partnership Agreement) reference code in the relevant section.

Documents requested from sending organisation



4 Documents

Evidence A

a self-assessment form to be filled out in its entirety

a self-assessment form to be filled out in its entirety; this covers all the standards and procedures involved in being considered as an organisation sending volunteers; the form also elicits, for some points, specification of whether the requirement is already fully met by the organisation’s policies and practices, or whether the entity undertakes to reach these conditions through certain measures.

Evidence B

a declaration on honour

a declaration on honour, signed by the person qualified to legally represent the sending organisation

Evidence C

a self-assessment list

a self-assessment list on the safety and security policies already introduced by the organisation, specifying in which attached document each point is covered

Evidence D

a list of previous experiences in humanitarian aid

Lastly, the organisation is asked to attach a list of previous experiences in humanitarian aid

The certification mechanism for hosting organisations

In order to become an EU Aid Volunteers hosting organisation, the certification process includes a self-assessment based on ‘references’. 

If you are a branch in a third country of an already certified European Union sending organisation ‒ i.e. you do not have independent legal status ‒ you can apply for simplified certification. This is based on the reference letters required in the self-assessment form, but involves a lower number of standards, since some of these have already been verified through certification of the EU headquarters.

Once the eForm has been submitted, the candidate receives a reference number; this should be used to send an email to EACEA with the optional documentation pertaining to the standards or procedures, to illustrate the organisation’s experience and/or internal policies.

Documents requested from host organizations



4 Documents

Evidence A

a self-assessment form filled out in its entirety

a self-assessment form filled out in its entirety; this covers all the standards and procedures involved in being considered as an organisation hosting volunteers; the form also elicits, for some points, specification of whether the requirement is already fully present in the organisation’s policies and practices, or whether it undertakes to reach these conditions through certain measures;

Evidence B

a declaration on honour

a declaration on honour, signed by the person qualified to legally represent the hosting organisation

Evidence C

three obligatory references

three obligatory references in which the reference provider specifies that the set standards (or level of standard) were upheld during collaboration between the it and the candidate entity. The reference letters do not necessarily have to cover all the standards required, but only those reached or experienced during the collaboration period. The reference providers must belong to at least two of the following categories:

  • an already certified sending or hosting organisation that the candidate organisation has had, has or plans to have a partnership with
  • a European Commission humanitarian aid partner with a framework agreement in force and which the candidate has already worked with
  • an international or not-for-profit organisation or a civilian public law body which the candidate has already worked with
  • an accreditation or auditing organisation that has certified the candidate organisation in areas pertinent to the EU Aid Volunteers initiative

Evidence D

a list of previous experiences in humanitarian aid

The organisation is asked to attach a list of previous experiences in humanitarian aid

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