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Principles of Practice for Fundraising Professionals at Educational Institutions

Approved by the CASE Board of Trustees in July 2014

Philanthropy is a voluntary exchange in which the values and aspirations of donors are matched with the values and aspirations of those they benefit.

Educational fundraising professionals work on behalf of those served by their institutions during this exchange of values and represent their universities, colleges and schools to donors, volunteers, and the larger public. In doing so, they also represent the integrity of the institution and of the fundraising profession. They must, in discharging responsibilities, observe and promote the highest standards of personal and professional conduct and continually strive to increase their knowledge of the profession.

The following principles are consistent with CASE's position on commission-based compensation originally developed by the CASE Commission on Educational Fundraising (now the Commission on Philanthropy) in 1991, and the Donor Bill of Rights, developed in 1993. They are intended to provide guidance and direction to educational fundraisers and volunteers as they make ethical choices during the philanthropic exchange of values. The principles are not, and cannot be, an exhaustive list of rules to be applied to every decision in which ethical principles may be involved.

These ethical principles go hand-in-hand with the expectation that educational fundraising professionals are expected to comply with the letter and the spirit of all laws relevant to charitable giving.

Ethical Principles

Personal Integrity
Individuals will:

  • be fair and honest and conduct themselves with integrity;
  • not maintain any vested interest in a professionally related activity that could result in personal gain, or be perceived as a potential conflict of interest, without prior full disclosure and institutional  approval;
  • respect that their relationships with prospective donors, donors, volunteers, and employees are professional relationships and may not be exploited.

Individuals will:

  • safeguard and respect donor and prospective donor information;
  • honor the wishes of an individual and/or organizational constituent with regard to how directory information and/or giving history is used or shared;
  • record and keep only information relevant to cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship;
  • identify the source of retained information;
  • safeguard prospective donor, donor, and other constituent lists compiled by the institution as the property of the institution; these lists may not be distributed or used for unauthorized purposes or for personal gain;
  • make every effort to ensure that volunteers, vendors, and external entities with access to constituent information understand and agree to comply with the organization's confidentiality and public disclosure policies.

Public Trust
Individuals will:

  • ensure donated funds are used in accordance with donors' directions and intentions;
  • obtain specific instructions from a donor before altering conditions of a restricted gift (consistent with applicable laws including UPMIFA);
  • provide prompt, responsive and truthful replies to donor and public inquiry in accordance with the organization's stated policies;
  • place the mission and interest of the institution and its donors above personal gain;
  • pursue only gifts that fall within, or advance, the institution's mission and/or approved priorities.

Individuals will:

  • be truthful about the institution's mission, intended use of funds, and capacity of the institution to use donations effectively for the intended purpose;
  • be proactive in sharing information regarding any institutional gift assessment or management fee structure related  to the donor’s contribution; 
  • be truthful and specific about the identification of the organization they represent and their employment or volunteer status;
  • understand and disclose their areas of expertise and will give appropriate advice regarding the involvement of the donors' legal, accounting, financial and tax advisors; not offer legal, accounting, financial and/or tax advice;
  • help ensure appropriate and consistent accounting, budgeting, and reporting methodologies in accordance with nationally adopted standards and guidelines.

Individuals will:

  • not accept commission-based compensation or compensation based on a percentage of funds raised;
  • not accept external compensation for the receipt of a gift or information leading to a gift;
  • agree not to pay compensation to individuals in respect of a gift or information leading to a gift.

These principles are intended to supplement and complement the CASE Statement of Ethics adopted by the CASE Board of Trustees in 1982.

These principles are intended to supplement and complement the CASE Statement of Ethics adopted by the CASE Board of Trustees in 1982.