pexels-photo-245219While most nonprofits want to maximise their fundraising efforts, it’s important to do so in ways that are ethical and transparent. We should, for example, act with integrity, and only ask for contributions from those who have the capacity to make informed choices.  Every fundraiser should take steps to ensure that they ask for donations without coercion or using practices that result in manipulation or raising funds in a manner that is immoral or unlawful.

When fundraisers use shady, underhanded means to raise funds, it damages the trust that the public places in nonprofits and other organisations that accept public donations. It harms everyone’s reputation.

What is the FIA Code?

The Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) has created a code of conduct for its members. The code seeks to clarify what is considered acceptable fundraising practices and behaviour.

Specifically, the code seeks to address the potential, and increasing, risk that some of our most vulnerable populations might be coerced or otherwise manipulated into donating when they might not have the means, or mental capacity, to do so of their own free will, good judgement and accord. The code also provides definitions of ethical and unethical behaviour. It offers a framework for compliance with the code and improves self-regulation of the not-for-profit sector.

Some of the most vulnerable populations include people with limited financial means, and those who may have developmental delays, learning disabilities, intellectual difficulties and even age-related changes in mental processing. Other challenges that could increase one’s ability to give consent include those who may have communication barriers and other disabilities.

Additional Guidance from FIA to Protect Vulnerable Donors

In addition to the FIA code, FIA also offers members educational materials and training that can help nonprofits and their members to learn more about how to adhere to the code, and what steps they need to take to ensure that their fundraising activities abide by ethical standards and practices.

It has also created a Fundraising Practice Note to help nonprofit fundraisers to be able to more readily identify when a potential donor might have limited financial means or cannot use sound judgement when making a contribution.

Monitoring by FIA Code Authority

FIA has created a body that is authorised to monitor their members’ compliance with the new code, known as the Code Authority. This group uses a number of techniques, including “mystery shoppers” to randomly test members adherence to the code during fundraising activities. Members found to be out of compliance can face sanctions and other consequences for violating the code.