A good friend’s daughter just started her first ‘real’ grown-up job, and it’s in the development office of a nonprofit that resonates with Wren* on many different levels. It fulfills a mission she’s deeply cared about and has actively volunteered for for many years. She’s thrilled to be working for them and it seems they are just as delighted with her.
Wren reported to her mom that they held their holiday party this week and, after an energetic and laughter-filled Yankee swap, the discussion turned (as pre-arranged) to fundraising ethics. The leaders had brought several current-events topics for everyone to discuss, and they broke up into groups to talk about them. As the groups reported back, there was more fascinating conversation, as I understand.
I couldn’t help but be (even more) impressed by this nonprofit and its fundraising leadership. And how innovative of them to introduce the topic at the holiday party! Everyone was already gathered together, (so there was no special meeting required) and of course they were much more relaxed than they would have been in a sterile Mandatory Ethics Discussion Meeting on a Tuesday at 3:30 (yawn).
Wren reported that ideas and opinions flowed freely, and the discussion helped her get to know her new colleagues better as well. It sounded like the whole segment was prepared and handled really well.
Using innovative technology to talk about ethics
And speaking of ethics discussions being handled really well, last week I went to a strong session on ethics at AFP-MA’s Fundraising Day. The session was led by Mary Doorley Simboski ACFRE, a long-time fundraiser and lecturer at Boston University, and Gavan Mooney, President and Chief Client Officer of the fundraising consulting firm Changing Our World.
Simboski and Mooney’s innovative approach included using a live-polling app that allowed each of us to vote on our phones and see the results in real time as we got more information about an ethical situation under discussion. Seeing the bar charts rising and falling in relation to each other added a fun horse-race-like element, and there were always surprise answers mixed in.
We then talked about aspects of each case in a candid environment where I heard unexpected viewpoints that further increased my respect for the ethically tenuous situations frontline fundraisers sometimes find themselves in. The group also talked about the importance of due-diligence research which (of course) warmed my heart!
Talking about ethics really isn’t optional anymore
Ethics discussions are increasingly important these days, both for readiness to meet these situations with skill when they arise, and because our donors expect that we will behave ethically.
It’s exciting to see the innovative ways that these discussions are happening, and I’d love to hear what your office is doing to create engaging, interactive discussion and learning around ethics?
*Wren is not her real name