AFP Guidelines, Codes, Standards for Fundraising

Ethical standards and principles are the foundation for maintaining public trust for every organization.  The Association of Fundraising Professionals [AFP] has made available their guidelines, codes, and standards for members.

What principle do you fear is violated all too often in fundraising?


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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3 Responses to AFP Guidelines, Codes, Standards for Fundraising

  1. The AFP Code is an excellent starting point. However, I find that many folks limit their understanding of ethics to the Code. Many feel if something is not specifically prohibited by the Code, then it’s ok. Of course, that may or may not really be the case. The Code cannot codify everything. We encounter grey areas everyday. That’s why, in addition to the Code, we need a process to wrestle with ethical dilemmas when they arise. Sometime ago, I wrote an article for the peer-reviewed “International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing” that provides a model for ethical decision making and also explores the value of being ethical. You can find the article at The free PDF is entitled “Doing Well By Doing Right: A Fundraisers’ Guide to Ethical Decision-making.”

  2. GivingThree says:

    Your question reminds me of when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus didn’t respond with, “great question, I’d have to say the third and fourth commandment are the most important.” Instead he referenced the Torah and responded “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

    I think a similar approach is necessary for fundraisers asking your question. It shouldn’t be about meeting the letter of the law… instead, it should be as Michael previously commented, a process of continual personal introspection and evaluation. That is why I think the CFRE is so important for fundraisers to obtain. It declares that we hold ourselves to a high standard of ethical professional practice. It also keeps us personally accountable to be reflective in our work… because to do otherwise would make us more prone to demonstrate lapses in ethical judgment. Thus resulting in the loss of the professional credential — both would be a great disservice to the sector and for the role of philanthropy in our society.

    I’d also like to recommend a resource that Michael recommended to me earlier this year, Ethical Decision Making in Fund Raising by Marilyn Fischer – GREAT READ!

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