Naughty or nice?

30 Nov

Uh, oh.

‘Tis the season to reflect on all you’ve accomplished this year and all you plan to do in 2011. And here’s my question for you: if you had to do it over again, what would you change?
I’m not talking tweaking things here or there, I mean real reflection on how you made decisions, what those decisions were, what drove you to make them and if they would pass the Santa smell test. That’s right, I’m talking about ethics.
Fundraising isn’t all fun and games. It’s not for sissies. It’s not all galas and black ties and happy people sipping champagne. Sometimes people make decisions that don’t serve the greater good. And what a complex thing that is–the greater good. As long as it helps your agency meet the bottom line, that’s the greater good, right? Not so much.
The greater good isn’t about getting a check to the bank or making payroll. It’s about the long haul, the future of your agency and the future of your donor relationships. Think of a difficult decision you or a colleague had to make this year that danced around the realm of ethics. Now imagine that decision was on the front page of the paper the next day–or which of Santa’s lists you belong on based on that decision. Imagine revealing that decision to your other fundraising colleagues. On a scale of 1-10, how uncomfortable are you?
I’m not saying there isn’t gray area or that the path is always clear. Fortunately, as professional fundraisers, we have guidance on making those tough decisions. In fact, members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), as well as those who hold the designation of Certified Fundraising Professional (CFRE), must adhere to a Code of Ethics.
It’s a set of professional standards for our industry, and it’s what sets us apart from people who–let me be blunt–just aren’t professional fundraisers. By that I mean the well-meaning people who operate in a bubble and underestimate the gravity and responsibility of what we do, as well as those who smell money and manipulate people. That is so ugly, but it’s so reality.
So…which have you been? Naughty or nice?

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