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Guidelines, Codes, Standards

Ethical standards and principles are the foundation for maintaining public trust, for every AFP member. AFP provides a self-governed process for addressing ethical concerns.

Note: AFP requires the completion of the following Permission Form by those wishing to reprint or reproduce (in whole or in part) the Code of Ethical Standards, and/or the Donors Bill of Rights. The form should be faxed or emailed per instruction, and permission will be granted to qualifying requests. Thank you.
Permission Form: Online Form

Code of Ethical Standards
The foundation of philanthropy is ethical fundraising, and a key mission of AFP is to advance and foster the highest ethical standards through its Code of Ethical Standards.   

Guidelines for the Code of Ethical Standards
These guidelines are provided to assist AFP members and others in interpreting and using the Code of Ethical Standards. They are intended only as suggestions to help guide thinking about ethical behavior and not as prescriptions for all possible situations.

AFP Ethics Complaint Form

*new* AFP Standard Forms of Agreement (Model Contracts) for Chapters

Contracts and agreements foster mutually beneficial working relationships and ensure an amicable and successful endeavor for both parties. With that in mind, much thought and precise tailoring is necessary to create an appropriate contract suitable for both sides. AFP has provided several standard forms of agreement as templates that can be tailored to your individual purposes.

Values Promoted by the AFP Code of Ethics
In September 2012, the AFP International Ethics Committee adopted the following overarching statement of values for the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards.  We invite your use of this document to share with your staff, your board, your donors and your constituency.

Social Media Guidelines: Ethical, Safe and Effective Practical Standards
The goal of AFP's Social Media Guidelines is to both provide fundraising professionals guidance on social media for their workplace and to establish guidelines for Organization leaders to use with their staff, consultants, volunteers, members, stakeholders and affiliated groups. This document also covers the conduct and expectations of the public when participating in an organization's social media or social networking platforms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Fundraising Ethics
AFP has prepared an FAQ for ethical behavior in fundraising (revised February 2009). The document is available here as a PDF download.    

Member Benefit: AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards
(June 26, 2006) In the 2004 AFP Member Benefits Survey, AFP members overwhelming agreed that the Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice was the highest-rated member benefit.   

Complementary Codes of Ethics in Canada
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and Imagine Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2008 that established a cooperative relationship in their areas of interest devoted to the advancement of philanthropy through the joint promotion of ethical issues in fundraising, research and advocacy.

The Accountable Nonprofit Organization
"The Accountable Nonprofit Organization" is a statement of principles. It outlines the operations and procedures a charity undertakes to show it is accountable to donors, the people it serves, and the general public.   

Ethics Enforcement: Handling and Preventing Unethical Behavior
From the January/February 2003 issue of Advancing Philanthropy... The stature of any self-regulated profession depends on how successfully it enforces ethical standards. Professional codes embody not just codifications of right and wrong but also the calling's ideals, aspirations, and sense of trusteeship for society. AFP's Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, which includes detailed enforcement procedures, clearly expresses the association's vision of philanthropy promoted through responsible fundraising.

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