President's Perspective Blog

Ethics Awareness Month

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AFP is celebrating Ethics Awareness Month throughout the month of October. And yes, I mean celebrating.

Why? Because ethics, and its direct relationship to public trust and confidence, makes philanthropy possible. Fundraising is the IMPACT profession—because of ethics. Ethics allows us to partner with supporters to change the world, and THAT is worth celebrating.

AFP was initially created in 1960 to develop a code of ethics for the fundraising profession. Because our leaders knew there would be moments where fundraisers felt pressure from others to cut corners or ignore ethical principles. Or situations where there might be competing interests, and the fundraiser would have to determine what’s best for the donor, the organization and the profession.

That’s why AFP created its Code of Ethical Standards and its accompanying guidelines. And The Donor Bill of Rights. And our Ethics Committee to serve as a guide for members. So you’d have the knowledge, backing and support of a professional association to help navigate through tricky situations and pressure-filled demands. And THAT’S worth celebrating too. 

We’re honoring our legacy of ethical fundraising—and the work you do every day to ensure your fundraising is ethical and effective—through Ethics Awareness Month.

In October, we’ll be providing new resources, ideas, tools and perspectives about ethics—webinars, articles, videos, and much more. One reason for providing them is to, of course, ensure your organization and your fundraising are abiding by the highest ethical standards and seen as trustworthy by your donors and the public.

But another reason is to help us think more expansively about ethics. Ethics isn’t just a list of “do’s” and “don’t’s.” It’s a way of thinking—how can we not only just prevent harm, but actually help everyone achieve and flourish in a just and equitable way?

Our ethical considerations should extend beyond just the issue of fundraising. Are diversity and inclusion ethical issues? Our free webinar in October will explore that question. Do you have an ethical responsibility to take care of yourself? Have we focused our ethics too closely on the donor and not on our constituents—the people who depend on our programs and services? Both of those issues are examined in our special October ethics issue of Advancing Philanthropy.

I’m proud of all the resources we’ve put together for Ethics Awareness Month. I know it’s a lot, and the subject of ethics can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

I encourage you to look over the resources available and use what you need when you need it. And as part of Ethics Awareness Month, schedule some time for yourself to choose a few resources and dive into the topic a little deeper.

There’s always a lot of talk in our sector and throughout all of society that, of course, ethics is important—we hear that all the time. But ethical issues keep arising. Controversies and scandals hit. And trust falls.

It’s not enough to talk about ethics. It’s not enough just to have a code. We need to understand ethics. Practice it. Live it. It’s a skill, and we can get better at it, learning how to best approach and address situations as they arise.

Our goal for Ethics Awareness Month is to help you live your ethics—the values and principles that you cherish and live up to every day.

Thank you for practicing ethical fundraising, and please join us in celebrating Ethics Awareness Month.

Click here for our main Ethics Awareness Month and a list of all of the resources and activities we’ll be offering during the month of October! 

I’m Mike Geiger, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Though I’m the one posting, it’s really your thoughts and views that we'll be posting, as much as mine —it's about the AFP community and the fundraising profession. I want to keep you up-to-date with what’s happening at AFP, but I really want to hear from you. So e-mail me your comments, questions, concerns, feedback, and items you think I should be covering.

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