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Ethical Considerations When Making Fundraising Decisions

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Can someone please provide some assistance with this question. Would you require a new development office staff member to become a member of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)? Why, or why not? Would you pay them a 10% commission on any funds they raise?

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Fundraising has evolved into more than the occasional church bake sale or the late night commercial with the cute kids in third world countries that need food and water. Competition for the same donors has made fundraising a full- time profession.

Your first question asks should you make an employee join the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). My answer would be this would be strongly encouraged and here's why. All professions need an organization in which they share a common foundation. Despite the fact your staff member will be competing for funds with other members of this organization, power comes in numbers. There's power when a group such as AFP needs ...

Solution Summary

This solution explores the ethical and professional decisions in the fundraising professions, exploring whether to give commissions and join professional organizations.

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Analyzing Ethical Considerations

Case Studies

Case Study A:
Medical School Foundation:

You are the executive director for a medical school foundation. You have a very active foundation board of directors. The members of the board are dedicated to the mission of the foundation, a majority of the members have significant business experience, and some also serve on other boards. You tell the board you need to hire a major gifts officer (at an annual salary of $60,000) in order to conduct an upcoming capital campaign. Many of the board members are reluctant to commit the resources until they know how much money the new employee will be able to raise.

One board member suggests that the foundation hire a new major gifts officer on a straight commission basis.

Another board member suggests paying the major gifts officer $35,000 as a base salary and then paying the remaining $30,000 to the major gifts officer as a bonus if he/she meets her/his fundraising goal.

How would you respond to these suggestions?


Case Study B:
Donor Jones:

Jones is a consistent $25,000 annual donor to your organization. You met Jones about 15 years ago in your role as director of development and you have become very well acquainted with Jones over the years. Jones is 80 years old, has never been married, has no children, and no surviving relatives. Jones encloses a $25,000 check to your organization in a Christmas card every year. This year you receive the annual Christmas card from Jones, where you find two $25,000 checks enclosed. One check is to your organization and one check is to you personally.

How do you handle this situation?


Case Study C:
Thompson Atrium:

Thompson notified your organization in 1995 that she had included your organization in her estate plan. In your position as a planned giving officer, you visited with Thompson a few times per year and always took her out to lunch on her birthday. Thompson suffered from arthritis and she mentioned to you several times that she was so pleased to know her gift would fund an endowment to support arthritis research after she passes away. Thompson passed away in August of 2007. You receive a letter from Thompson's attorney, along with a copy of Thompson's will. The will provides a $500,000 unrestricted gift to your organization. The chief financial officer (CFO) for your organization would like to use the unrestricted gift to fund a portion of the construction costs for a major new addition to the organization's facility. The CFO suggests naming the atrium in the new facility the "Thompson Atrium" to recognize Thompson's generosity.

What would you say to the CFO?

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