Doing What's Right
What it’s all about
That’s why I’m so impressed with the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s newly released Principles & Best Practices for Accountability in Fundraising. (Hats off to Shannon McCracken of Special Olympics International and her DMA Nonprofit Federation colleagues.)
Industry leaders are now saying that if you as a nonprofit or a consultant want to be part of the DMA Nonprofit Federation, you need to adhere to a code of ethics. (The Association of Fundraising Professionals also has a long-standing code of ethics for fundraising professionals. You can read it here.)
The new DMA Nonprofit Federation code is elegant in its simplicity, clarity and common sense. If I may summarize, it says:
- Nonprofits need to tell the truth about what they are doing and deliver on what they tell donors they will do.
- Nonprofits should be evaluated by mission, impact, stability and growth.
- Nonprofits should invest in sound management and smart fundraising, and use multiple metrics to measure their success over time. Campaign-by-campaign analysis is misleading.
- Nonprofits should honor donor intent and should adhere to generally accepted accounting principles, such as joint allocation of fundraising costs, to accurately portray how they are spending resources.
- Over time, most of the money a nonprofit raises needs to be spent accomplishing the mission of the organization.
- Often, nonprofits find that experienced fundraising consultants can help them raise more revenue, more efficiently. When a nonprofit works with a consultant, the charity should avoid conflicts of interest, have a clear written contract and, above all, should maintain control of the program.
- Consultants should always act in the best interest of their nonprofit clients, working to enhance their work, their financial health and their reputation.
This code is not a case of onerous over-regulation. It’s a common-sense approach to acting in the public interest. We need to have clear mission statements. We need to tell the truth. We need to honor donor intent. We need to allocate resources to and work toward accomplishing the mission we set forth.