Monday, February 4, 2013

5 Ethical Decision-Making Steps

While a host of news stories about nonprofit executives making poor ethical decisions should not diminish all the good many organizations do, the reality is that the public perceptions is that nonprofit malfeasance has taken center stage in the past decade.

Ethical decision-making should play a central role in every challenge an executive faces, according to Barbara R. Levy, Yulanda N. Davis-Quarrie and Art Taylor during the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 49th International Conference on Fundraising.

Representing the AFP International Ethics Committee, the speakers noted that poor ethics will result in a drop in fundraising, as donors begin to lose trust in the organization. They offered five steps in ethical decision-making, also referred to as five questions to ask when trying to determine a more ethical path. The steps are:

  • What are the critical factors of the situation? Take time to review the problem from all sides. Write down the critical facts. Review them.
  • What are the key, perhaps competing, values and ethics at stake? Is this an issue of honesty, respect, justice, accountability or fairness, or all of these?
  • Who are the players and stakeholders in the decision? Does it involve donors, clients, staff, the community, volunteers, oneself or even philanthropy?
  • What are the driving forces in the situation? Where is the pressure originating? Are the sources of pressure reliable?
  • What is the worst-case scenario and the effects on all the players who are stakeholders? Who is the most vulnerable, the most resilient?

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