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Non-profit Ethics and Accountability

1. Please respond to the following:
With reference to at least one specific nonprofit case study, develop an informed response to these and other related questions as you consider the characteristics of nonprofit management:

* Do ethics play a special role in nonprofits?
* For what should nonprofits be held accountable?
* Are the standards of excellence for nonprofits different from those that apply to for-profits? To government agencies?
* What should be the relationship between ethics, law and regulation??

*Material from the general media or from trade journals will be useful in locating a case study for these questions. Please be sure to refer to the case study in you response.

2. Then respond to the following posts (respond to each post separately) by creating a response that agrees and adds incite or disagrees and supports your position.

Post I
I think ethics play an extremely important role. You really can't have a functioning nonprofit (or a for profit company for that matter) organization without having ethics being involved. Only bad things happen when there is no oversight. Mostly in forms of theft from nonprofits.

The above link shows how this couple was stealing from a non-profit they headed to have gambling money for Atlantic City. I've heard many stories like this and I could only imagine that there is no internal oversight to prevent thinks like this from happening.

I think that the standards for non-profits and government agencies should be held higher since they are both public entities. Private companies have the right burn (to put things bluntly) because they are not funded through donations or taxes. So they should be able to have more leeway, however if their good or service should cause harm, then there should be a response (most likely from the government). Some good examples are cars without seat belts and car accidents that results to death. So we pass through state laws the usage of seat belts starting with New York. There was a concern that healthcare was being taken advantage by the private sector, so through federal legislation the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a good act to have especially if you start your nonprofit under this law instead of changing to fit the law. Which I don't think should be the case 10 years after its passing. Ethically, nonprofits would come out better than before and would be something to brag about to potential donors who have a hard time trusting nonprofits. What is depressing is that it can't prevent all nonprofits from falling in between the cracks like the one from Accokeek, MD. That being said, with nonprofits having to be more public with their finances, the nonprofits with bad apples are bound to be caught. Having jail time to be bounded with these offenses are good to try and deter others from trying to steal from nonprofits.

Post II

Ethics definitely plays a major role in nonprofits just as it would for profit companies. Nonprofits should be held to a higher policy because they are in most cases using funds from philanthropic organizations or the government. Managers and board members must always act in the best interest of the people receiving services. There does not seem to be much difference from what you would expect the board and managers to do at profit corporations. After all, their goal is to maximize shareholder wealth. One of the main ways to accomplish this is to not let personal gain get in the way of the organizational goals. This concept holds true for nonprofit organizations also. Making decisions for personal gain presents an ethical issue. In many organizations today, private and nonprofit, ethical standards have declined within the last 5 years.

The Delaware YMCA proactively implemented an ethics reporting system to help address rising concerns internally and externally from customers. They felt that by leaving the reporting anonymous, more people would come forward to report issues. This concept worked. According to the case, "that capacity of anonymous dialogue has increased the Y's efficiency in responding to and resolving concerns. It has also helped boost confidence and satisfaction in the YMCA community" (Ethics Point, UNK). The president of the YMCA of Delaware noted that the Ethics Point software helped the Y to capture and resolve real ethical issues. The community was able to have an improved confidence as a result of the increased efficiency. It's really sad when you have to instill the fear of being caught for people to use their morals to make wise decisions, but it is something that has to be done. You would hope that everyone would just act accordingly and make the right decisions, especially in nonprofit organizations.

EthicPoints. (2012). YMCA of Delaware puts its principles to practice with EthicsPoint. Retrieved from

Solution Preview

I have attached and pasted the information below. Hopefully this gives you an example of how you could respond with an answer and two replies.

Ethics are very important in operations of a nonprofit organization. In a case study by Rachel A. Christensen and Alnoor Ebrahim in 2004, it was found that accountability (part of ethics) greatly affects the mission of the organization as well as the operations of the company. This case study discussed the missions programs offered to refugees in the United States and the importance of accountability and ethical decision making in these programs. Without ethics and accountability these programs would not be able to help as many people as they do now.

Nonprofits need to be held accountable for all aspects of a business just like a for-profit should. The Executive Office and Board of Directors must show valid and transparent financial documents, justification of expenses, and budgets and expense reports. Additionally, nonprofits must keep good records of funds spent that came in from donations and grants. ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses non-profit ethics and accountability.