President's Perspective Blog

Ethics Awareness Month: Living Your Ethics Out Loud

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You’re probably thinking to yourself, uh, Mike, what’s up with the title? I work hard every day to ensure that ethics is integrated into all of my work. I am a proud member of AFP and abide by our code of ethics in everything I do—from privacy and transparency to how I raise and report funds and get compensated.

And believe me, everyone at AFP greatly appreciates your commitment to ethical fundraising and abiding by our code—the strictest and only enforced code in the profession. It says a lot to donors, your staff, your community and so many others that you’re a member of AFP and integrating ethics into every aspect of your work.

But not only do we need to be living an ethical life, so to speak, but we need to be ELEVATING ethics. There’s nothing wrong with living a quiet life dedicated to ethics, but candidly, we need, more and more, to be living our ethics OUT LOUD. People need to see what we do ethically to respect and protect their privacy and ensure their charitable gifts are used appropriately and effectively—and just as importantly, understand why we do it.

We need to be sharing with our donors, prospective donors, community leaders, and even our colleagues the steps we take to ensure our organization’s fundraising is ethical.  We need to be publicly highlighting documents such as AFP’s Code of Ethics and the Donor Bill of Rights. And we need to be demonstrating the impact of ethical fundraising (we are the IMPACT profession after all!)—that being ethical makes a difference in what donors, fundraisers and charities, working together, can accomplish.

Of course, this is precisely why AFP celebrates Ethics Awareness Month every year in October. While we practice ethics every day of the year, October is the time we shine the spotlight on what ethical fundraising makes possible, and the care and effort that fundraisers put forth to ensuring fundraising is ethical.

This year, our message for Ethics Awareness Month is “living ethics out loud,” publicly, and showing off our commitment to ethics. And I use “showing off” deliberately here, because we should be proud of the ethical standards that we live by every day. While talking openly and publicly about our ethical work may not be second nature to everyone, we need to make that part of our efforts as well. People receive so many communications, emails, social media posts and other messages every single day—and so many of them negative—that we must be public about our fundraising ethics.

Throughout October, we’ll have resources and tools on how to live your ethics out loud and elevate the profile and awareness of ethical fundraising. We’ll also be providing you updates and information on our projects related to the development of a Fundraiser Bill of Rights and the updating of our Code of Ethics to reflect our principles related to IDEA—inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

Oh, and one more way to live your ethics out loud and help elevate ethical fundraising? The AFP Ethics Committee has two open positions, each term running for four years, 2023 – 2027. This is an incredible and unique opportunity to serve the fundraising profession and the AFP community. Nominations are due Sept. 30, and more information, along with the online nomination form, can be found here. I can’t think of a better way to elevate the profession than by serving on the committee.

Thanks for your commitment to ethical fundraising, every day of the week, and I look forward to celebrating Ethics Awareness Month with all of you in October!

If you have any thoughts about living ethics out loud, or any other aspect of AFP, please email me at or contact me via Twitter at @AFPMikeGeiger.

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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