Ethics Awareness Month

In October, We Celebrate Ethics

Celebrate Ethics Awareness Month: October 2023                            


That's right, we celebrate—because ethics makes philanthropy and fundraising possible. Without ethics, giving doesn’t happen. Fundraising doesn’t happen. Change and impact don’t happen.

Ethics makes it all possible, and THAT’S worth celebrating.

And while we celebrate in October, ethics is critical all the time. So our goal for Ethics Awareness Month is simple: helping you see yourself in ethical fundraising. Growing your ethical skills. And demonstrating your commitment to the highest ethical standards.                                          

After all, AFP members have already demonstrated that commitment by signing the AFP Code of Ethical Standards. This October, share your commitment by joining the conversation on social media and using #SeeYourselfInEthicalFundraising and #EthicsAwarenessMonth.

Now Available: A toolkit to publicize Ethics Awareness Month and things you can do to help promote the month and celebrate!

Download the Toolkit


Ethics Awareness Month Resources                 

Kate McNeelyThe Ethics of Leading with Empathy: Authentic leadership is more than a trending topic, it’s a culture shift that allows many of us —particularly nonprofit leaders with historically marginalized and underrepresented identities — to claim our strengths in the workplace. It takes both self-awareness as well as empathy to build an empathy-driven approach to the ethics of work culture in your sphere of influence. In this article, Kate McNeely, director of development at Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, previews her AFP LEAD 2023 session, Telling the Truth: How Authentic Leadership and Ethical Storytelling Lead Us Forward. Continue Reading                  

AIAFP Complimentary Webinar: How To Move Towards Ethical and Human-Centric AI?: We have been using more AI-based products in our personal and professional lives than we acknowledge. We are heading towards a future where embracing this technology will be the normal. In this webinar, we talk about those not-so-subtle points we must know and remember for the human-centric AI our nonprofit industry deserves. We will also brainstorm on some common questions when we start with AI. Register Now. Funding provided by the Claudia A. Looney Fund for Ethics in Fundraising at the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.                    

Unconcious BiasAFP Complimentary Webinar: How to Handle Biases in Fundraising - Yours and Theirs: Not all of our choices are made consciously, which indicates that there is significantly more activity occurring in our minds than we believe there is. Both conscious and unconscious biases have the potential to influence how we think about our donors and how they think about our causes and organizations. It is helpful to have an understanding of exactly what these unconscious biases are and where they originate if one wants to be aware of these prejudices before making the ask. Register Now. Funding provided by the Claudia A. Looney Fund for Ethics in Fundraising at the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.                        


Examine Real-Life Ethical Dilemmas

This Ethics Awareness Month, we asked AFP members to share ethical dilemmas they have faced in their careers and how they were able to resolve them, successfully or perhaps not so successfully. See more of these dilemmas here.   

Ethical DilemmasConflict with Board Member over Donor Intent: I had started working at a small nonprofit as the director of development. Two months after I started, a long standing board member, and much loved and respected philanthropist in the community, passed away. Fast forward a year later and we learn he had left a $1M donation to be endowed. Another board member and friend of the deceased, tried to get me to use half of the funds to run a challenge campaign. He wanted me to tell donors that every donation would be matched by this bequest. Continue Reading.   

Emergency FundsFunding for Closed Programs: Our current organization is very large and has multiple programs at 30 different sites around the country. When a program is struggling to meet revenue goals through governement grants and private funding, it goes on a Watchlist prior to being closed within the budget year. The ethical dilemma is whether or not to continue fundraising for the program once it is on the Watchlist. Recently we were awarded a grant from a private foundation for a program that closed between the time of the application and when the check was received. Continue Reading.  

ReportSexual Harassment from a Prospect: An employee of mine told me she was feeling uncomfortably harassed by a new potential large donor she had visited but still viewed as an excellent prospect. I asked if she would like to have me take over the solicitation with all financial credit for any subsequent gift(s) being credited to her for having found and nurtured the relationship. She thanked me but said she’d like to still work on it. I said OK as long as she felt she could manage it safely. As it happened, she left the company shortly after that for a new position in another state. Continue Reading  

ContractBooking Pledges Without Written Confirmation: My organization continually books pledges for donors and prospective donors without written confirmation from that individual. Oftentimes, a secondhand text message or email from a volunteer fundraiser, usually a board member, is used to secure the pledge, and then we are in a rush to "book it" so that the pledged amount will count toward the fundraising goal before the next board meeting, finance committee meeting, or other important metric review period. This practice was greatly encouraged by a former CEO who is no longer with the organization in any capacity, although it still happens on occasion. Continue Reading  

Micro-Learning Videos Covering the "7 Major Ethical Dilemmas":


Ethics Conversations with AFP Leaders             

Joyce Mitchell-Antoine, Chair of the AFP Ethics Committee shares the inspiration behind the upcoming changes to AFP's Code of Ethical Standards, how members were involved in the review process, and the larger conversations that were sparked as a result of this review. 


Tycely Williams, CFRE, former chair of the AFP IDEA Committee discusses the changes that are being made to the AFP Code of Ethical Standards, the changing nature of controversial donors, and how power dynamics factor into ethical decision-making. 


Explore the AFP Code of Ethical Standards                    


Recursos de ética en español


Le mois de sensibilisation à l'éthique


Past Resources

  • Five Ethics presentations from AFP ICON 2019 bundled together and free of charge for AFP members!                                          
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  • Our entire October 2019 issue of Advancing Philanthropy devoted to different aspects of ethics.                                           
  • A free webinar from October 21, 2019, on ethics and inclusion - "Are Diversity and Inclusion Ethical Issues?" - view the recording now!                                          
  • Ethics Awareness Month Preview Bundle: You can watch, at no charge, four great sessions on ethics from AFP’s 2018 International Fundraising Conference (now AFP ICON). Here's how:                                          
    - Go to:                                          
    - Click "Add to Cart"                                          
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Email your questions and comments about Ethics Awareness Month to

See all of AFP Global's Ethics Material

Supported by:                                           
The Rebecca Powell Tribute Fund

Ethics Issue 2022

Ethics Takeover of Advancing Philanthropy!

How do you live ethics out loud? As members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, we all sign the AFP Code of Ethical Standards each year, affirming our dedication to fundraising ethically. In this issue of Advancing Philanthropy, we examine what the code means to us, how we practice ethical fundraising daily, and the future of the code. We’ll also look at fundraising through a variety of lenses—the struggles and triumphs of black fundraisers, staying positive in storytelling, smarter fundraising with technology—and the future of our profession.

woman thinking

2019 AFP Survey: Donor Control, Conflict of Interest and Tainted Money

AFP conducted an online survey of its members earlier this year to assess their awareness of the association’s ethical resources, potential changes to its Code of Ethical Principles and which ethical issues were of most concern. Survey results show that members are most worried about donor control of gifts, conflict of interest, “tainted” money, sexual harassment and workplace issues.

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