Advancing Philanthropy

From the Chair: Happy Ethics Awareness Month!

We’ve never done anything like this before. Well, two things, actually.

First, as I hope you’ve seen or heard by now—and maybe even checked out some of our online resources already—we’re celebrating the inaugural Ethics Awareness Month as you read this. Of course, every month is ethics month, but during the giving season, which starts in October and runs the last quarter of the year—the time when most organizations raise one-third to one-half of their overall yearly funds—ethics plays an even more critical role.

I hope you’ll find this to be a valuable resource as it covers more ethics-centered topics than any previous issue of Advancing Philanthropy.

With so much philanthropy taking place during these three months, we’re encouraging all fundraisers and social impact organizations, no matter where you are in the world, to show your support for ethical fundraising. Our updated ethics webpage has a variety of new resources, including interviews with our Ethics Committee and various nonprofit leaders, an explanation of each of the standards in AFP’s Code of Ethical Standards, and webinars and other presentations on various ethics themes. Check it out at

And a key part of establishing Ethics Awareness Month is the October issue of Advancing Philanthropy—the second thing we’ve never done before. Almost every article in this issue is dedicated to one topic: ethics.

Now Martha, you might be thinking, that’s a LOT of articles on ethics. And you’re right, it is! So you might want to pick and choose, or better yet, devote more than one sitting to this special issue and read all of them. That said, I hope you’ll find this to be a valuable resource, as it covers more ethics-centered topics than any previous issue.

For example, maybe everything is going so well at your job that you only skim The Ethics of Self-Care by Kishshana Palmer; then later on, you encounter a difficult situation and her article may be exactly what you need. By the way, Kishshana is kindly serving as our special guest editor for this issue. A million thanks, Kishshana! (In fact, see her Letter from the Editor on page 15.)

Ethical dilemmas are something we face every single day, though often in very different ways. This issue reflects the belief that ethics and ethical behavior are about more than just the 25 fundraising standards listed in our Code. In fact, you won’t find the Code printed in this issue!

Ethics is broad and deep, and involves much more than just a list of what you can and can’t do. In his article, The Power of Ethical Leadership, Amir Pasic reminds us that ethics “creates as much as it constrains” and leads to personal and institutional transformation. We also wanted to broaden the idea of ethics by employing writers with vastly different perspectives, so we’d like to give a gratitude shout-out to the Chronicle of Philanthropy for participating, as well as to our sister associations, the Institute of Fundraising in the U.K. and Fundraising Institute Australia.

Almost everything we do contains some sort of ethical consideration. Often, the answers are easy. But there may not always be a “right” answer as we seek to address different ethical challenges. Sometimes there is only the best answer for your organization, in that moment, based on your knowledge and experience as you involve the appropriate players to tackle the situation.

This special Ethics Awareness Month issue was designed to assist you in addressing the often dizzying and diverse array of challenges we increasingly face in fundraising, providing you guidance and food for thought. Thank you for your commitment to ethical fundraising, and I hope you find this issue of Advancing Philanthropy—and the rest of the information provided during Ethics Awareness Month—to be helpful in advancing your fundraising throughout the giving season and beyond.

Martha Schumacher, CFRE, ACFRE, MInstF (AdvDip)

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