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Topical Resource Lists

Fundraising Ethics:
A Selected Resource List

In recent years, controversies at major nonprofit organizations have created new public concern about, and focused media attention on, the ethics of fundraising. National trade and professional groups have responded with the establishment or revision of codes of ethics for their members.

This selected reading list contains citations to selected works from the Foundation Center's bibliographic database on the topic of fundraising ethics. Materials cited are journal articles and books. For a complete bibliography on this topic, use the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature, entering the subject heading fundraising--ethics in the subject search field box.

Anderson, Albert. Ethics for Fundraisers. Philanthropic Studies. Bloomington, Ind. (Tenth & Morton Streets, 47405): Indiana University Press, 1996. xiii, 150 p. ISBN 0-253-33028-9. Call Number: 640 AND
Invoking a variety of classical and contemporary models, the author examines what it means to think and act ethically. He applies an ethical framework to a wide range of situations familiar to nonprofit development officers, volunteers, and organizations. Presents a hypothetical case and concludes with a program for developing and refining a code of ethics for the organization. Includes bibliographic references and index.
Anft, Michael. "Win, Lose, or Draw?" Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 15 (12 May 2005): p. 25-7.
Provides examples of charities raising money by holding poker events and discusses regulatory and ethical issues.
Burlingame, Dwight F., ed. Critical Issues in Fund Raising. The NSFRE/Wiley Fund Development series. New York (605 Third Avenue, 10158-0012): John Wiley & Sons, 1997. xxii, 266 p. ISBN 0-471-17465-3. Call Number: 703 BIR
Researchers and practitioners address the major issues in the current state of fundraising, including demographics and donor motivation, strategies, marketing, ethics, regulation and law, cost-effectiveness and financial management. Also provides perspective on fundraising in Western Europe. Indexed.
Cohen, Rick. "Fundraising Medicine: Creating Gift Acceptance Policies." Grassroots Fundraising Journal, 21 (January-February 2002) p. 11-3.
Rick Cohen, head of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, shares how his organization developed a gift acceptance policy, and advises other nonprofits to attend to this necessary statement, which ideally incorporates the values and principles of the agency.
"The Ethics of Consulting Fees." Advancing Philanthropy, vol 9 (July-August 2002) p. 12-4.
Discusses why consulting fees should be based on a consultant's experience and the nature of the fundraising project, rather than a percentage of funds raised. Sidebar includes excerpts from the Association of Fundraising Professionals' "Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice."
Fischer, Marilyn. Ethical Decision Making in Fund Raising. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2000. xix, 251 p. ISBN 0-471-29843-3. Call Number: 640 FIS
Covers various issues such as diversity, conflict-of-interest, the role of trust, relationships with donors and volunteers, privacy, and other subjects. Case studies are given to illustrate the material. With bibliographic references and an index.
Gose, Ben. "Pioneering a New Direction: Community Fund Advises Both Charities and Donors." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 19 (12 October 2006): p. 21-24.
Discusses the ethical issues raised by the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, which provides fee-based consulting services to both charities and donors. While the Green Bay Community Foundation sees itself providing a useful service to both communities, some observers are concerned about potential conflicts of interest.
Hall, Holly. "When Gifts Get Personal." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 17 (14 October 2004): p. 7-8, 10, 12.
Describes several instances of donors making substantial personal gifts to fundraisers. Since fundraisers can legally accept gifts as long as they have not put "undue pressure" on donors, charities have resorted to ethics codes to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Hogan, Cecilia. "A Good Time for Ethics: A Researcher's Perspective on Collecting and Protecting Donor Information." Journal of Gift Planning, vol. 11 (2nd quarter, 2007): p. 10-15, 37-45.
This article is an excerpt from the author's book, "Prospect Research: A Primer for Growing Nonprofits." Hogan analyzes the prospect researcher's role in development, policies to mandate ethical behavior, and the question of public versus private information. Includes instruction on how to build a fundraising ethics code.
Klein, Kim. "Ethics and Fundraising." Grassroots Fundraising Journal, vol. 25 (July-August 2006): p. 9-11.
Klein provides advice to development directors who are facing challenging ethical issues. Several examples are examined.
Koziol, Kenneth G. (ed.) and the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management. Ethics in Nonprofit Management: A Collection of Cases. 2nd ed. (San Francisco, CA: University of San Francisco, 1998).
Contains teaching cases that can be used by instructors and workshop leaders in the study of ethics in nonprofit organization management. Each case presents an ethical dilemma designed to stimulate moral reasoning; discussion questions are included for each case.
Lamb, David F. "Do Not Disturb." Currents, vol. 33 (April 2007): p. 44-5, 47-9.
The article explains why it is important for prospect researchers to address the privacy concerns of donors. Highlights ethical guidelines developed by the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement.
Levine, Naomi. "School for Scandal: Fundraisers Should Be Required to Take a Course in Ethics". Contribute, vol. 1 (November-December 2006): p. 29-30.
Pribbenow, Paul. "Public Character: Philanthropic Fundraising and the Claims of Accountability." New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, vol. 47 (Spring 2005): p. 13-27.
The fundraising profession is responding to the increasing demands for accountability within the sector; in this essay, Pribbenow considers both personal and professional aspects of integrity. With bibliographical references.
"Privacy Lost." Contribute, vol. 2 (September-October 2007): p. 68-74.
An edited transcript of a roundtable discussion on new privacy and security risks facing donors as more personal information is captured in databases. Participants include Sree Sreenivasan, dean at the Columbia University's journalism school; Marc Rotenberg, executive director and founder of the Electronic Privacy Information Center; Laura Fredericks, author and fundraiser; Chris South, director of Blackbaud Analytics; Cynthia Wainwright, philanthropist; and Jeff Brooks, author of
Pulley, John L. "Tainted Gifts." Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 49 (3 January 2003): p. A32-4.
Institutions of higher learning are taking differing approaches to the issue of donations from individuals implicated in recent corporate scandals. Among the universities that are cited are Seton Hall, Brown, Harvard, Mississippi College, and University of Houston.
Renz, David O. "Funding Sources and Influence: Assessing the Tradeoffs." Nonprofit Quarterly, vol. 12 (Summer 2005): p. 38-41.
Rosso, Henry A.; Tempel, Eugene R. (ed.) Hank Rosso's achieving excellence in fund raising. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2003. xlii, 531 p. (Jossey-Bass Nonprofit Sector Series). ISBN 0-7879-6256-2. Call Number: 710 ROS ACH
Comprehensive coverage of successful and ethical fundraising principles, concepts and techniques. Chapters, each written by a specialist, focus on institutional readiness for fundraising; the applications, requirements and interconnectedness of fundraising methods; managing the fundraising process; and keys to success in fundraising. Contains numerous figures, tables and exhibits. Forward by Paulette Maehara. With bibliographical references and an index.
Rosen, Michael J. "Doing Well by Doing Right: a Fundraiser's Guide to Ethical Decision-Making." International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, vol. 10 (August 2005): p. 175-81.
Scully, Maura King. "Fear Factor." Currents, March 2003, p. 40-8.
Explains how to protect the personal information that development offices collect about donors amid concerns about recent incidents of identity theft. Briefly outlines the current laws that pertain to confidential information, and describes some typical situations in which college officers may need to exercise caution.
Sczudlo, Walter. "Motivation: Mission or Money?" Advancing Philanthropy, vol. 10 (September-October 2003), p. 30-2.
The article explains the position of the Association of Fundraising Professionals on the topic of commissions and percentage-based pay for fundraisers.

In addition to print resources, you may want to browse the ethical guidelines posted at the Web sites of the following professional associations.
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