Privacy is both a legal and ethics issue

Getting the word out is very important, but getting the word out clearly and correctly is of even more importance. A lack of clarity can cause miscommunication and, even worse, be seen as an attempt to conceal wrongdoing.

During its International Conference on Fundraising, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) reminded members of its ethical standards. Those standards include a lot, including presentation of information.

The AFP’s standards on presentation of information include the following:

  • Members shall not disclose privileged or confidential information to unauthorized parties.
  • Members shall adhere to the principle that all donor and prospect information created by, or on behalf of, an organization or a client is the property of that organization or client and shall not be transferred or utilized except on behalf of that organization or client.
  • Members shall give donors and clients the opportunity to have their names removed from lists that are sold to, returned to or exchanged with other organizations.
  • Members shall, when stating fundraising results, use accurate and consistent accounting methods that conform to the appropriate guidelines adopted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for the type of organization involved. (In countries outside the United States, comparable authority should be utilized.)