Ethics Are More Than Instincts
One of the greatest challenges in fundraising ethics is that most individuals/organizations think that they already are ethical and, therefore, can move forward simply by relying on their instincts.
This, according to Michael Rosen, executive vice president of client development at Legacy Leaders Inc, who says problems with this method of operating arise when someone is confronted by an issue with which they have no experience.
“Our ability to make instinctive decisions or decisions based on conscience primarily are based on not only our own values system, but are based on experience. And when we don’t have experience in a particular issue, we can get into a problem area,” Rosen says.
To avoid ethical dilemmas, Rosen suggests organizations adopt a code of ethics — the AFP code of ethics and the donor bill of rights, for fundraising, and one designed to address the organization’s specific concerns — and an ethical decision-making model.
“One of the challenges with codes of ethics is that they’re very effective at informing ethical decision making, they’re very effective at dealing with certain, specific issues, but on other issues, they simply provide a broad guideline without specifically addressing all issues. Think of how voluminous a code would be if it attempted to address all issues. And so, what’s necessary to have in place is a mechanism for making good, sound decisions when the code doesn’t speak to the issue directly,” he says.
Rosen recommends using the model presented by Marilyn Fischer, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Dayton, in her book “Ethical Decision Making in Fund Raising,” which encourages those encountering an ethical dilemma to explore all the possible alternative courses of action, and consider each alternative based on a series of questions that include:
* How does implementing a given alternative relate to the organization’s mission?