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Ethics & Accountability

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CURRENTS Article Advice on removing a donor name from a building; and why a deck of cards helps one development pro stay focused on making the impossible possible.

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.

Sticky Situations
CURRENTS Article Gift officers often face emotional angst and ethical dilemmas in their dealings with donors, and the stakes are high. Handling these situations isn't easy, especially when the decisions can jeopardize gifts. Here are four case studies, based on real-life experiences, with advice on how to handle ethical issues, from inappropriate gifts to sexual advances.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ethics Case Study: Trouble Brewing?
CURRENTS Article This final edition of our Ethics Case Study series poses a timely dilemma: Should an institution accept a gift from a company that produces alcoholic beverages, including some aimed at the youth market? Complicating the issue is that this institution seeks to recruit Muslim students, whose religion forbids alcohol consumption. The gift is large, but so is the reputation of the university.

Ethics Case Study: Talking Head
CURRENTS Article When the new head of an independent school excitedly tells a donor that his gift will be the largest ever to the school, it turns out that's not accurate. The development officer has to decide how to correct this misinformation with the donor, without risking the gift. What would you do?

Ethics Case Study: Supplies and Demand
CURRENTS Article Have you ever updated your resume on your workplace computer? Or taken home a few pencils or paper clips? Many employees feel entitled to use office equipment and supplies for whatever reason. But is it ethical?

Ethics Case Study: To Consult or Not to Consult
CURRENTS Article At first glance, the answer to whether or not to consult for your software vendor might seem cut-and-dried. But like most scenarios that arise in advancement work, the considerations are more complex. The following advancement professsionals weigh in on how they would handle the situation.

Ethics Case Study: Hide and They'll Seek
CURRENTS Article A sexual assault takes place in a dorm in which both the victim and the suspect live. After checking with the student affairs office, it's discovered that the suspect was not actually enrolled at the time and should not have been living in campus housing. The student affairs office asks that this information not be shared with reporters. Of course a reporter does call and asks for the suspect's hometown, which is provided, but nothing else. Is it ethical to respond to only those questions the reporter has asked? Is it ethical to withhold information about the error? CASE members respond.

Ethics Case Study: Tongue Tied
CURRENTS Article Is voting for an alumni award candidate based on past or potential giving to the institution ethical? CASE members respond.

Ethics Case Study: Creative Financing
CURRENTS Article Ethics Case Study: Creative Financing

Ethics Case Study: The Beneficent Bigot
CURRENTS Article This is part of CURRENTS yearlong series of ethics case studies that present scenarios that raise ethical questions and responses from advancement professionals who offer their insights and opinion. This case study features a conflict about whether an institution should keep money from a longtime major donor whose views on race have cast the campus in a negative light.

Ethics Case Study: A Tough Call
CURRENTS Article This is the first in a yearlong series of ethics case studies that present scenarios that raise ethical questions and responses from advancement professionals who offer their insights and opinion. This case study features a conflict involving a contract bid for a campuswide telephone systems and a major donor.Although ethical issues are perennial and ethics is a topic worthy of ongoing discussion, CASE has designated 2006-2007 as the year of ethics to reinforce the importance of ethical practice in all aspects of advancement. As part of this mission, CURRENTS asked several members of the CASE commissions to consider the following hypothetical case study and to share their perspectives.

A Question of Ethics
CURRENTS Article As part of its year of ethics, CASE supports and promotes ethical standards for the advancement profession. This article presents a typical fundraising scenario, followed by responses from several members of the CASE Commission on Philanthropy.

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.

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.

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