With the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) celebrating October as Ethics Awareness Month, the association conducted an online survey of its members earlier in the year to assess members’ awareness of AFP ethical resources, potential changes to its Code of Ethical Principles and which ethical issues were of most concern to members. The survey results show that long-standing issues such as donor control of gifts, conflict of interest and “tainted” money remain top ethical concerns for many fundraisers, but workplace issues, including sexual harassment and working with top executive staff, are important as well.
According to the survey, most members don’t have to address challenging ethical situations or dilemmas very often. Almost 50% of respondents said they typically face challenges or dilemmas once a year, while 23% reported they have never had to address such a situation, whereas close to 17% said roughly six times per year, and eight percent encountered challenges once a month. The survey did not specifically define what a “challenge” or “dilemma” was, so respondents may have different views of the situations they face.
From a list of common ethical challenges, respondents also identified ethical issues on which they need more guidance and resources. Donor control and restrictions on how gifts can be used was identified by almost half (48%) of respondents as a critical issue, followed by conflicts of interest (41%) and “tainted” money from donors (40%).
However, throughout the survey, several issues kept arising that members were interested in seeing AFP address through its Code of Ethics or through other means. These included sexual harassment, racial and gender bias, working with elderly donors, and online crowdfunding platforms.