Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the Road

I enjoyed some great meetings with AFP chapters in Tampa and Orlando last week. The primary topic of discussion was, of course, the economy and how organizations are faring.

It was a mixed bag: some members reported that their organizations are undergoing difficult budget reductions, while others, surprisingly, don't seem to be affected. And in the job market, there are definitely people seeking positions but for most of them, I didn't get the sense that they had been laid off from their jobs. Most were looking for change. Several attendees indicated that they owed their careers to AFP, which was really nice to hear. Both chapters have done some great work in Florida, and I salute the chapter leadership there.

I gave an ethics presentation in Orlando, which I always enjoy. I typically see some eye-rolling when I first start talking about ethics, but once you get into ethical dilemmas and topics such as donor intent, attendees become very intense and engaged.

As always, the most popular issue was percentage-based compensation. The AFP Ethics Committee gets more questions about compensation than all other issues combined. Our guidelines to the code contain some great examples of what is considered ethical and unethical in certain situations (compensation covers Standards 21-25), and remember that the Ethics Committee is always available to answer questions (Ethics FAQ) confidentially.

One idea I like to leave with members is that ethics is part of each of our organizations' story. In fundraising, we refer to telling our story. We want to let donors know who we are, what we've done and how we're going to help the community. But we often leave out a key component—the story that begins when money is given and ends when the money is spent on a program. What happens in that time between—how we steward the funds our donors give us—is a story of ethics. Adherence to ethics is a part of our organization's story that needs to be told, and the public is looking to us to tell it.

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