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Most Fundraisers Face Few Ethical Situations

September 20, 2010

Four out of five charitable fundraisers encounter ethical challenges, situations or dilemmas once a month or less, according to a website survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Participants in the poll were asked how often they faced an ethical challenge, situation or dilemma during their professional work. Fifty-eight percent reported less than once a month, while 24 percent said once a month. Just eight percent responded that they encountered ethical challenges two or three times per month, while the remaining ten percent reported facing such challenges at least once a week.

"Ethics is critical to the success of fundraising and philanthropy, so it's important to understand just how often fundraisers face ethical situations so we can have resources ready, such as AFP's Code of Ethical Principles and Standards," said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. "The results as a reminder that while ethical challenges and dilemmas are not the norm for most charities, they happen enough that ethical guidance and direction are always needed."

Maehara said that the results also showed that ethical practices are commonplace through the sector and are accepted not just by fundraisers, but by boards, volunteers, donors and others. "I think fundraisers aren't facing more ethical challenges because, by and large, people understand more and more what is and is not acceptable. That's a good sign for the profession, and something we'll continue to work on."

Maehara also noted that fundraisers who are facing ethical challenges can contact the AFP International Headquarters to receive guidance or speak with a member of AFP's Ethics Committee.

Future surveys will be focusing on what sorts of ethical challenges fundraisers are facing the most. Results were based on 493 responses to an informal survey that ran on AFP's website in August.

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