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Ethics & Accountability

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FAQ about Alumni Giving
This FAQ document on ethically counting gifts from alumni was developed by the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations in consultation with the CASE Commission on Philanthropy. It was approved by both commissions in October 2007.

CASE Statements on Compensation for Fundraising Performance
In 1991, CASE's Commission on Educational Fundraising (now the Commission on Philanthropy) released a statement on commission-based compensation for fundraisers. That statement was reaffirmed in 2005. In 2010, the Commission approved an additional statement on supplemental compensation (often described as a bonus). This page presents in one place all of CASE's statements on compensation for fundraising.

Ethics & Conflict of Interest Policies
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of ethics and conflict of interest policies.

Principles of Practice
CASE developed or endorsed these ethical standards and principles of practice for advancement professionals working in educational institutions.

CASE Statement of Ethics
The CASE Board of Trustees adopted this Statement of Ethics on July 11, 1982, to guide and reinforce professional conduct in all areas of institutional advancement. The statement is also intended to stimulate awareness and discussion of ethical issues that may arise during professional activities. National and district leaders and countless volunteers contributed to the development of the statement.

CURRENTS Article Advice on handling donor information learned during a previous position, and members share what app changed their life.

Brand Values
CURRENTS Article When the university began using the Zia name and sun symbol in 1981, most people were unaware of the sign's sacred meaning. When we began the trademark process, we knew better—and we had a choice. ENMU could continue to use the name and symbol, likely without challenge from the Zia Pueblo, but that didn't mean the university should. Taking this route would prevent us from protecting part of ENMU's visual identity since we couldn't register the Zia symbol. We could try to modify it to meet trademark and licensing requirements, but that would be costly and difficult. What was the university's obligation? If we continued using the name and symbol, would future generations of students, staff, and alumni view ENMU as participating in cultural appropriation? How would stakeholders react if we stopped using the name and symbol?

Donation Inflation
CURRENTS Article Many development leaders grouse that liberal arithmetic for determining fundraising totals is becoming more common and does not comply with CASE's Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines. No one CURRENTS contacted for this story wanted to charge specific institutions with promoting bogus totals, but everyone wanted to talk about what they feel is a scourge on the profession. They cited examples of practices that enable institutions to claim they're breaking fundraising records. Such practices pressure other institutions to keep up, detract from the mission of educational institutions, undermine the promise and joy of philanthropy, and damage the profession's reputation.

UK Government Response to Etherington Report
Article,  BriefCASE Article The UK government announced new recommendations earlier this month that would curb unethical fundraising.

Employees Lack Awareness of Whistleblower Policies
Article,  Advancement Weekly Article Organizations don’t do enough to encourage employee whistleblowers who could help uncover bad behavior, according to a new survey.

Outlook: Can Gift Officers Be Both Fundraisers and Philanthropic Advisers?
CURRENTS Article Development officers are well-suited to help donors unleash their giving potential, even if other nonprofits benefit along with the institution. More development officers should take on this advising role, but it's important to follow some essential principles to protect you and your institution.

Leak-Proof Your Organization
Article,  Advancement Weekly Article To prevent unwanted and potentially damaging information leaks about their organizations, leaders should build trust and transparency among their staffs, says a management consultant.

CURRENTS Article College and university boards of trustees encounter a number of ethical issues on occasion, such as institutional contracts that are awarded to board members and boards that pressure an institution to accept gifts that go against its values. This article provides advice to advancement leaders on how to navigate these landmines with a focus on how they can educate their boards about ethics.

Promoting Ethics in the Office
Advancement Weekly Article Managers should set an ethical framework for how their employees should behave in the workplace, says a leadership specialist.

Slow Down to Avoid Bad Decisions at Work
Advancement Weekly Article New research says that managers who work too fast and rush into decisions are more likely to make selfish and unethical choices.

President's Perspective: Ethics and Economics
CURRENTS Article Given the pressures advancement professionals face to help ensure the economic vitality (or even viability) of their institutions, ethical principles are in danger of being not only passively overlooked but actively compromised.

Lessons for All Following Inquiry into UK University's Libyan Ties
Article,  BriefCASE Article The United Kingdom's former Lord Chief Justice released last month a report on the findings from an inquiry into links between the London School of Economics and Political Science and the regime of recently deposed Libyan dictator Muammar el Qaddafi. And though the focus of the investigation, including its recommendations for reform, concern but one British institution, the executive director of CASE Europe says there are lessons for those in higher education around the globe.

CASE Europe: Ethical Principles Behind the Acceptance of Gifts
Best Practice CASE Europe staff developed these 10 principles in collaboration with the Ross Group and the 1994 Group of Development Directors in September 2011.

Students Negatively Affected by School Commercialism, Study Finds
Article,  BriefCASE Article Corporate sponsorships for K-12 schools may cover budget gaps but could have a negative effect on the students, according to a new study.

Peligro claro y presente
CURRENTS Article Recibir un donativo comprometedor, de amigos, gobiernos foráneos o emprendedores con antecedentes penales, le puede pasar a cualquier institución en cualquier momento. Pero hay formas de minimizar los riesgos y problemas que esto puede causar.

Clear and Present Danger
CURRENTS Article Gifts gone bad, whether they are donations from once-friendly foreign governments now scorned or from famous entrepreneurs subsequently convicted of fraud, can happen to any institution at any time. But, there are ways to minimize risks and limit any fallout if a gift sours.

CASE Offers Perspectives on Ethical Decision-Making in Fundraising
Article CASE offers these perspectives and guidance to help fundraising professionals and their institutions respond to questions and ensure that their own operations reflect best practice. Institutions need to think carefully about whom they accept gifts from, and for what purpose.

Donors Demand More Accountability from Nonprofits, Survey Says
Article,  BriefCASE Article A global survey on the state of the nonprofit industry reveals that donors worldwide are demanding more accountability of nonprofits.

Talking Points: Standards that Fit
CURRENTS Article Traditional outcome measures, particularly those collected at the federal level, inadequately capture the breadth and varied missions of community colleges. Community college leaders are working on developing new metrics by which to measure their institutions.

Importance of Ethics Rises Following Economic Downturn
Article,  BriefCASE Article An alumnus wants to make a donation of $30,000. Your “due diligence” reveals that he has made his money from the sale of erotica. Do you accept the gift? What if it were $3 million?

Whistleblower Policies
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of whistleblower policies for members.

Panel on the Nonprofit Sector
Responding to media stories of tax fraud in the nonprofit sector, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee began extensive hearings into how to reform charitable tax law. In October 2004, Independent Sector convened the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector to address the issue. The panel's work and recommendations are summarized here.

AFP Ethics
Association of Fundraising Professionals
This compilation of fundraising ethics resources includes an FAQ, articles, AFP position papers and more.

Compendium of Standards, Codes and Principles of Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations
Independent Sector
Independent Sector has compiled nearly 100 standards, codes and principles into this comprehensive, web-based clearinghouse on ethics and accountability.

Power of Profiling
CURRENTS Article Public four-year colleges and universities have joined a voluntary effort to provide more consistent, comparable, and transparent information on the undergraduate student experience to prospective students and their families. Through the Web reporting template called College Portrait, students now have access to common data on institutional characteristics and campus life.

Advance Work: Time Out
CURRENTS Article When officials at Memorial University in Newfoundland decided to try to encourage people to report wrongdoing, they found that not many of their peer institutions have a formal whistleblower policies.

Closing Remarks: Accountability is Not Enough
CURRENTS Article Rather than asking institutions for accountability, what we really need to demand is responsibility. Whereas accountability is quantitative, external, and inherently distrustful, responsibility is qualitative, internal, and based on a foundation of reciprocity and trust.

Seeing Clearly Now
CURRENTS Article This issue of CURRENTS considers accountability from a variety of angles. This introduction summarizes the discussion.

What’s in a Word?
CURRENTS Article One size doesn't fit all when it comes to defining accountability. This article explores the various dimensions of the word and its meaning through a series of questions posed to advancement practitioners. In this round-up Q&A, advancement pros offers their thoughts and insights about what they think of when they hear the word accountability, related issues they grapple with on campus, how it affects their jobs, and more.

Closing Remarks: The Intersection of Accountability and Ethics
CURRENTS Article A discussion about accountability—which focuses on what we do—is not complete without an accompanying conversation about ethics, which focuses on how we do it. We all know we shouldn't steal, cheat, or lie. But dig deeper into advancement and the ethical issues become murky.

AdvanceWork: Secrets and Lies
CURRENTS Article Advancement officers must set achievable, measurable goals for their employees. The alternative, according to a recent study published in the "Academy of Management Journal," is employees potentially behaving unethically in order to reach their targets.

Foundation Accountability
This article discusses accountability for institutionally related foundations.

APRA Statement of Ethics
Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement
Developed for APRA members in 2004, this statement of ethics helps advancement researchers balance an individual's right to privacy with the needs of their institutions to collect, analyze, record, maintain, use, and disseminate information.

Talking Points: A Test of Integrity
CURRENTS Article This column examines the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in a telemarketing case, Madigan v. Telemarketing Associates, and how it affects charities and fund raising.

The Artisans of Advancement
CURRENTS Article As a profession, advancement is becoming increasingly formalized: more defined, more visible, more respected, and more central to institutional missions than ever before. But is it a profession? Some of the field's most respected practitioners weigh in. The article also tracks some CASE history, including both Greenbrier meetings, founding principles, and early leadership. Part of the issue focus on five forces shaping advancement.

Closing Remarks: Crisis of Confidence
CURRENTS Article Three research reports--from the Brookings Institution’s Center for Public Service, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Independent Sector--indicate that public trust in the charitable sector is declining in the United States. The sector’s complacent reaction suggests a lack of willingness to deal with the problem or even conduct more rigorous research. To fortify public trust, the author suggests three basic strategies. This Closing Remarks column is of interest to advancement managers in all disciplines.

Closing Remarks: Looking for Leaders
CURRENTS Article Even though responsibility for creating an ethical advancement program starts at the top, too many senior leaders are silent about the importance of doing the right thing. This Closing Remarks column spells out basic principles to raise standards and create ethical organizations. The article is of interest to chief advancement officers as well as managers of alumni relations, development, marketing and communications, and advancement services.

Defining the Institution's Values
CURRENTS Article Campuses can find themselves in an ethical dilemma when some constituents object to the actions of a current or prospective corporate donor. Hanson suggests several questions campuses should ask themselves when they define their values, develop gift acceptance policies, and deal with objections to a donor or gift. This article will interest corporate relations officers, principal gifts officers, and other development staff concerned with corporate relations or questions of fund-raising ethics.

Keeping Good Company
CURRENTS Article Recent business scandals highlight the tensions that can arise between institutions and corporate donors or partners. The authors recommend establishing a committee to identify and articulate the institution’s ethical principles, which should guide gift acceptance, and they provide advice on directing the committee’s work and handling crisis situations. This article will interest corporate relations officers, principal gifts officers, and other development staff concerned with corporate relations or questions of ethics in fund raising.

Doing the Right Thing
CURRENTS Article The daily interactions involved in alumni relations often require diplomacy and accommodation, but such judgments are rooted in values and ethics. Situations that truly test our ethics are not questions of right vs. wrong, but rather of right vs. right. An ethicist and advancement professionals offer insight into how to make sure that your staff can resolve ethical dilemmas consistently, using role-playing and seminars. One sidebar lists three tests to use in weighing an ethical decision; another sidebar describes four ethical dilemma paradigms; and a third sidebar presents the CASE Statement of Ethics.

The Perils of Philanthropy
CURRENTS Article To conduct your own ethics audit, check to see that: 1) the department or institution has a clearly written code of ethics, and vision or mission statements; 2) ethics is a regular topic of discussion at development staff and other meetings; 3) it is understood to whom the institution is accountable; 4) successes are defined according to ethical standards; and 5) ethical behavior is an important component in development staff performance appraisals. A sidebar article describes resources available on ethics in development.

Sample Collection

The Library maintains a collection of sample materials for members.

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