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Ethics Awareness Month

October is AFP Ethics Awareness Month and Mike Geiger, President of AFP Global, wants us to

“Live Ethics Out Loud!”

I’m not quite sure what that means, but there’s lots of information available on the website,

  • AFP Code of Ethical Standards
  • Donor Bill of Rights
  • Toolkit with marketing materials
  • Deep dives into various ethical topics
  • Interviews
  • Micro-learning videos
  • Materials in Spanish
  • Past resources

These resources can help you and your chapter make the most of raising the profile of ethics in fundraising in your community.

So, what is ethics and why does it matter? Ethics are not laws, but laws are based on ethical standards. Ethics is doing the right thing because it is the right thing. And sometimes there is a price to pay.

Here’s one quick story.

I was relatively new as the development director at this agency. A board member asked me how much his brother had recently donated. I told him the range in which his brother had given, but the board member insisted on knowing exactly how much the donation had been. I told him that was confidential information and suggested he ask his brother. He insisted he had the right to know. I never told him. I don’t know if he ever asked his brother. Shortly after that incident, I was fired.

Here’s another side to the “pay the price” coin.” Let’s say you know someone who has violated the Code of Ethical Standards. Do you have an obligation to do something? What can you do? AFP Global has a system in place for ethics complaints to be submitted. The reported misconduct will be investigated, hearings will be held, and disciplinary actions and sanctions will be taken, if warranted. The decision may be appealed by the person being accused. There is a list on the AFP Global website of fundraisers who have been sanctioned.

Tips on being an ethical fundraiser:

  1. Be clear with yourself about your personal values and standards. Are they in sync with the AFP Code?
  2. Be very familiar with the AFP Code of Ethical Standards and the Donor Bill of Rights.
  3. Have copies of these two documents visible in your office.
  4. Share these documents with your colleagues and board of directors.
  5. Does your agency have a gift acceptance policy and a conflict-of-interest policy? If so, be familiar with both of them. If not, advocate with your leadership to create and implement them.

Not everyone can be a professional fundraiser with ethical standards. Can you?

About Fundraising: webinar – every Thursday – noon CST – half-hour – join me.

DMGroupConsulting, is your frontline fundraising consultant. Contact us at