I have had the honor of serving on the Association Of Fundraising Professionals Ethics Committee over the past few years, alongside completely engaged committee members from all over the world. With every meeting, I become more convinced that any organization engaged in fundraising must keep ethics as a core value in order to gain and keep donor trust.

Stone PillarUnfortunately, ethics can be a bit of a dull subject, so it is rarely top-of-mind. Hence, there can be accidental ignorance of some of the key tenants found in AFP’s Code of Ethics, which is frequently updated to reflect the changing needs of current fundraising practices.

I wanted to highlight two remarkable examples of AFP’s dedication to keeping ethics in the forefront of thought and, more importantly, a part of daily fundraising practices. One is quite new and one is an old reliable standard practice.

Self-Check of Your Ethical Practices

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an online tool that allowed every member of the largest association of fundraisers to quickly check their application of daily ethical principles? Perhaps a tool that would provide instant feedback while bringing the concept of strong ethics forward?

Fortunately, that tool exists and is just waiting to be used!  It is called the Ethics Assessment Inventory and you can access it if you have an AFP membership.

After taking it myself and seeing how quickly it brought so many ethical issues and guidelines to mind, I can heartily recommend the tool to others in the fundraising profession. The knowledge and insights found within will aid in guiding most fundraising professionals to the next level of ethical knowledge.

It is essential that all fundraising practitioners should develop an awareness of potential ethical conflicts and dilemmas. Download our free guide to fundraising ethics here >>>

Ethical Committee Violation Review Process

No matter what standards are in place for any sort of behavior in our world, there’s always a chance those standards will be ignored or violated. Most associations and other governing bodies often struggle with what manner to address such potential or actual violations.  This is where a review or formal hearing process is critical for several reasons. Among them:

  1. Ensuring certain ethical standards are still valid and stand up to critical inspection
  2. Ensuring the ongoing ethical behavior of the members who took an oath to do so
  3. To provide a fair process of individual case review

Very few such associations have a formal review process that is ongoing and works closely with outside legal counsel. I believe this to be quite special in ensuring ethical guidelines are current and upheld by all members. All AFP members should be proud to be part of an association who takes this extra step. You can read more about their process here.

Hopefully, ethics can be part of the foundation of trust you establish with your donors. I honestly cannot imagine improving relationships and therefore donor retention without such a foundation solidly in place.

If you took the ethics inventory, let us know how you did in the comments below. Did it raise any questions or issues you would like to explore further?

img via

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.