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Tips & guides 5,151 views Jan 29, 2019
3 tips for building an ethical fundraising strategy

Precious Sithole (CEO, Social Practice ENT)

With 2018 having been marred in part by scandals, it is safe to conclude that now more than ever, all charities small and large must consider having a code of ethics in place.

At Social Practice ENT, we work with charities to promote socially responsible practices that ultimately help improve the sector. In this guide, we share our 3 top tips to successfully integrate ethics into your fundraising strategy in 2019.

1: Start at organisational level

A good fundraising strategy flows from the overall organisational strategy. Likewise, before focusing on ethics at a functional (fundraising) level, it’s worth first considering your charity’s ethical position at organisational level.

Ask yourself, what are the charity’s core values and principles? What are the core values and principles of the trustees and chief executive, as individuals? Is there congruence — do the values of the individuals align with those of the charity? Having this information to hand will be useful when it comes to resolving ethical issues and assessing suitability of relationships with new funding partners and individuals. This ultimately helps to ensure that you put your core values at the heart of everything you do.

If you do not have a code of ethics for your charity, there is a wealth of resources available online to guide you, including ACEVO’s report titled ‘leading with values’ and NCVO’s newly published set of ethical principles for voluntary organisations.

2: Consider the intersection of regulatory compliance and ethics

Now that you have your charity’s values and principles established, you can focus on your fundraising strategy.

Firstly, consider familiarising yourself with the Code of Fundraising Practice issued by the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) — and make an honest commitment to adhere to it. Remember, ethical decisionmaking is not just simply complying with regulatory guidance; rather, it is more about making a conscious decision to uphold high standards and ‘live your values’. Adhering to the code will help to ensure that your fundraising activities are legal, open, honest and respectful.

Additionally, hold third parties that you enter into partnership agreements with to the same high standards that you hold yourselves. After all, it’s very easy for external partnerships to bring the name of your charity into disrepute.

3. Ensure a monitoring mechanism is in place

The final step in any planning process is to monitor and review progress. Consider placing an ethical fundraising policy on your website, somewhere it can be easily accessed by interested parties

Include a complaints handling procedure, to ensure that any issues noted by the public can easily be brought to your attention. Also consider setting a date within 12 months, to review the ethical components of your strategy at board level. For charities with resource constraints, monitoring and reviewing ethical procedures may be at the bottom of the priority list. However, it pays to be ethical — as a good ethical working environment: increases employee morale; reduces the risk of reputational damage as a result of scandals arising; and increases employee willingness to report issues of misconduct to senior management.