Solidarity among Caritas organisations is and has been an essential value of the Caritas network. The Caritas Development Fund (CDF) is a new approach to solidarity. It focusses on the organisational development of member organisations and underlines the fact that organisational development is the responsibility of any organisation. In this understanding, the CDF is a solidarity system among Caritas Europa's member organisations that aims to support the organisational development of those members that need this support because they are, for various reasons, unable to finance structural costs relating to their development.

The CDF is closely linked to the Caritas Internationalis Management Standards (CI MS). Both the CDF and the CI MS are - together with the capacity building approach - important elements of the Caritas Europa institutional development approach.
According to the rules and standards of both Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Europa, and inspired by the Motu Proprio "On the service of charity", every single Caritas Organisation shall act with responsibility for its beneficiaries, members and staff by ensuring financial and organisational development and stability.


  • To financially support the structural costs relating to organisational development projects of member organisations that are unable to finance such costs autonomously, whereby facilitating and encouraging member organisations on their path towards financial self-sustainability.
  • To foster and encourage solidarity between member organisations of the European Caritas network.
  • To foster closer liaison between national and diocesan Caritas structures in recipient member organisations.


Caritas Europa envisions the CDF instrument as an expression of solidarity and subsidiarity in an unequal and changing Europe. The Caritas Development Fund (CDF) provides targeted grants aimed at improving the capacity of member organisations to meet the needs of poor and vulnerable communities. The Caritas Development Fund is an expression of solidarity between member organisations who are all part of the Caritas Europa family and demonstrate the compassion, solidarity and generosity towards people who are facing hardship and misfortune. Without solidarity, some of our member organisations will feel alone and isolated in addressing the needs they encounter in their countries.
The CDF, being a multilateral solidarity instrument, can contribute to appropriate actions by members to make their organisations more autonomous in the future.

Caritas organisations in Europe belong to the same global Caritas family. They work together respecting each member organisation's autonomy, strengthening their unity and sustainability. We remain committed to the principle of subsidiarity, which both requires and promotes grassroots empowerment, participation, decentralised decision-making where possible and a partnership of equals. Caritas Europa envisions being a European network of Catholic organisations that work together to overcome inequalities between countries and within countries, where the strength and capacities of the network are more than the sum of the strength and capacities of its individual components.

In pursuit of this vision, Caritas Europa strives for an ideal situation, where each member will work toward financial independence from others and will be able to realise its mission using its own or locally raised resources.


The mission of the CDF is to be a multilateral tool for financial solidarity by and for the members of Caritas Europa in the framework of institutional development. Member organisations in need of such financial assistance can benefit from financial and technical support to realise their organisational development and make their organisations increasingly self-sufficient, allowing to ensure the continuity of their own mission.

Guiding Values and Principles

  • Solidarity is an important value of Catholic Social Teaching and is ‘a firm and preserving determination to commit oneself to the common good. That is to say to the good of all and each individual because we are all really responsible for all' (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis). When we act in generosity and solidarity, we are bringing about the spirit of Caritas and acknowledging that we are not isolated organisations that happen to live side by side, but that we are organisations that are really interdependent with one another.
  • Subsidiarity: The fact that member organisations entrust to Caritas Europa and it's CDF working group the decision making competence with regard to the application of the funding made available to the CDF is a clear expression of the application of the principle of subsidiarity.
  • Sustainability is another key concept among the values and principles of the CDF mechanism. Based on the principle that all member organisations are responsible for their own organisational development, Caritas Europa aims to contribute to the sustainability of applicant member organisations with self-sustainability being a matter of individually agreed strategies.
  • Accompaniment / Capacity building: focuses on developing the capacities of member organisations so they are better equipped to accomplish the missions they have set out to fulfil.
  • Cooperation within the network: The member organisations are the true actors of the common activities of the network. Caritas Europa respects each member's autonomy and, at the same time, it actively promotes co-operation among its members and co-ordination at European and global levels. Caritas Europa endeavours to promote a culture of open dialogue, partnership, mutual respect and support within the network, and to support and strengthen the structures and sustainability of individual member organisations within the network.
  • Transparency. The CDF system requires absolute transparency by the applicant member organisations in the way that they prepare and submit their organisational development plans for the implementation of which they need CDF support. Just as important is the transparency demonstrated by Caritas Europa towards the member organisations in communicating information about the CDF system in general, in applying transparent allocation criteria and in communicating the rationale and recommendations for specific allocation decisions.
  • Accountability: all applicant member organisations share a mutual and collective accountability towards one another for the quality and reliability of their individual application. Caritas Europa is accountable to its member organisations, in particular for the way in which it facilitates and administers the CDF mechanism, for organising a regular and open dialogue about the mechanism, for timely preparation and sending of application packages, for timely collecting donors' commitments, for timely and transparently evaluating applications and allocating CDF support and for timely and transparently communicating information to all member organisations.

The Caritas Development Fund will be superseded by the Organisational Development Solidarity System (ODSS) in 2019. For more information about the ODSS, check out this leaflet and the video below.