When ethical issues arise in the philanthropic sector, nonprofit leaders often find themselves having to deal with both internal turmoil and problems of external perception. Actions that might seem innocuous during day-to-day operations might appear much more significant when viewed by those outside the organization or the sector.
During the AFP 49th International Conference on Fundraising, Gretchen C. Gordon of KUAC radio and TV in Fairbanks, Alaska and Janice Gow Pettey of J.G. Pettey & Associates in San Francisco offered advice about keeping an ethical focus in daily work. They gave three main guidelines.
1. Behaviors. Use good judgment, i.e., common sense. Put the needs of the organizations and donors above those of any individual. Ask questions:
What are the critical facts of the situation?Who are the key stakeholders in the decision?What are the key values and ethics at stake?What is the likely outcome/worst case scenario?
2. Simple tests:
Putting oneself in others’ shoes: How would I feel?The headline test: Would I want an account of this to appear on the front page of a newspaper?The mother test: How would I feel if my mother heard of this?Peer review: Ask a knowledgeable friend.
Creation of organization ethics policies and others like conflict of interest, gift acceptance, recognition policies.A Donor Bill of Rights.The AFP Code of Ethics & Standards of Professional Practice.The AFP offers an Ethics Assessment Inventory™.