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Ethical Fundraising

Ethical behavior is critical to charitable giving. After all, if donors don’t trust the organizations they want to support, they won’t give.

One of the missions of the Association of Fundraising Professionals is to ensure that all charitable fundraising is ethical and accountable, and that charities treat donors and supporters with respect.  The associations require all of its members to abide by its Code of Ethical Principles and Standards, and many charities around the world have use this document as the basis for their own organizational code.

If you’re not a fundraiser, you don’t have to know the code, although the standards speak to very important issues, such as donor trust, percentage-based compensation and privacy. Just know that the code is there and works to guide charities AND protect donors as they give their hard-earned money to charities they support.

AFP does encourage you to review The Donor Bill of Rights. This document was created by a coalition of organizations and lists explicitly the rights and expectations you should have when making a charitable gift. If an organization doesn’t live up to any of these rights, then consider making a gift to a different organization that does!

The Donor Bill of Rights

Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To ensure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the nonprofit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

I. To be informed of the organization's mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.

II. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization's governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.

III. To have access to the organization's most recent financial statements.

IV. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.

V. To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.

VI. To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.

VII. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.

VIII. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.

IX. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.

X. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.

The Donor Bill of Rights was created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits. It has been endorsed by numerous organizations.

For a copy of The Donor Bill of Rights in PDF format, click here.

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