FYI Blog

Fundraising Ethics, Made Simple

jenny-phillipsRemember Highlights magazine? It’s a children’s publication that features a comic called “Goofus and Gallant”—two boys facing pint-sized ethical challenges in every issue. Naughty Goofus would push to get ahead in the line, while nice Gallant waited patiently for his turn. Or, generous Gallant would share his dessert while greedy Goofus got sick from eating too much candy.

The fundraising profession is challenged today by much more pernicious behavior. The death of Olive Cooke in the U.K. and the egregious fraud of four American cancer charities are alarming. It is critical that honest fundraisers respond with energy and dedication to protect our philanthropic mission.

With that in mind, the simple clarity of Goofus and Gallant is as relevant as ever. And here’s how it breaks down:

GOOFUS would:

– Put his head in the sand and hope no one asks.
– Refuse to communicate around the issue.
– Respond defensively to concerned donors or community members.
– Assume he has nothing to learn.
– Continue business as usual with no pause to assess his organization and tactics.
– Refuse to work transparently.
– Take cues from the bad guys.

GALLANT would:

– Reach out to a knowledgeable colleague or do further research.
– Think critically about his organization and his tactics.
– Teach his colleagues, especially the rookies on his team.
– Welcome the opportunity to discuss fundraising ethics with donors.
– Act as steward of the profession’s philanthropic mission.
– Use his influence to expose fraud and eradicate bully tactics.
– Have the courage to challenge fundraisers behaving badly.

We take ethics very seriously at Avalon, and I hope you do too. Let’s agree to be Gallant together, so that Goofus doesn’t undermine the important work we do.