The need to scale up NGO impact on national development became the root motive that led to the formation of the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO). The building of the coalition was facilitated by a series of consultations organized by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in July 1988. In May 1990, CODE-NGO was established formally by the 10 largest NGO networks in the Philippines. In January 1991, it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-stock, non-profit organization.
In December 1991, CODE-NGO held its 1st National Congress, where close to a thousand non-government organizations (NGOs), people's organizations (POs) and cooperatives attended. The Congress ratified its Covenant on Philippine Development and the Code of Conduct for Development NGOs.