Nonprofit Services -

Ethical Standards

Association of Fundraising Professionals

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents 26,000 members in 171 chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education, and certification programs.

AFP believes that to guarantee human freedom and social creativity, people must have the right to freely and voluntarily form organizations to meet perceived needs, advocate causes, and seek funds to support these activities. To guarantee these rights, AFP's purposes are to:

Foster development and growth of fundraising professionals committed to the preserving and enhancing philanthropy.
Establish a code of ethics and professional practices.
Require member adherence to a professional code of ethical standards and practices.
Provide training opportunities for fundraising professionals.
Implement programs that ensure cultural and social diversity in our membership and leadership.

Collect, research, publish, and disseminate historical, managerial, and technical information on philanthropy and philanthropic fundraising.
Promote public understanding of philanthropy and philanthropic fundraising.
Conduct activities that maintain and develop legislation favorable to philanthropy.
Enlist, organize, and support members to achieve our purposes.
Foster international cooperation, knowledge exchange, and education among fundraising professionals worldwide.
Use all necessary and proper means to accomplish our purposes.
Provide a valid and reliable certification program for fundraising professionals.

Donor Bill of Rights

Foundation Center

The Foundation Center's mission is to support and improve philanthropy by promoting public understanding of the field and helping grantseekers succeed.

To achieve our mission, we:

  • Collect, organize, and communicate information on U.S. philanthropy
  • Conduct and facilitate research on trends in the field
  • Provide education and training on the grantseeking process
  • Ensure public access to information and services through our World Wide Web site, print and electronic publications, five library/learning centers, and a national network of Cooperating Collections.

Founded in 1956, the Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy and is dedicated to serving grantseekers, grantmakers, researchers, policymakers, the media, and the general public.

Fundraising Ethics

Giving Institute

Member Firms of Giving Institute are organized to provide professional services as described in the Standards of Membership, Standards of Practice and the Professional Code of Ethics to not-for-profit organizations. Member Firms share a deep commitment to philanthropy and respect for the men and women who voluntarily commit their time and resources in the service of the philanthropic organizations operating today throughout society.

These tenets are a result of decades of service and experience by Member Firms, and have been carefully formulated to address the best interests of not-for-profit client organizations and their extraordinarily generous donor constituencies.

The philanthropic community recognizes the high ideas, competence, and integrity of the individuals who comprise the Member Firms. Through years of experience, these professionals have honed their skills and achieved acknowledged leadership in strengthening and expanding the philanthropic potential of their clients.

Standards of Practice & Professional Code of Ethics

Independent Sector

Vision: A just and inclusive society of active citizens, vibrant communities, effective institutions, and a healthy democracy.

Mission: To promote, strengthen, and advance the nonprofit and philanthropic community to foster private initiative for the public good.

Statement of Values:

  • Commitment beyond self
  • Commitment beyond the law to the public good
  • Respect for the value, dignity, and beliefs of individuals
  • Responsible citizenship
  • Openness, honesty, and accountability
  • Prudent stewardship of resources
  • Obedience to the rule of laws
  • Embracing a wholeness that incorporates diversity
  • Open, constructive response to change
  • Appropriate risk-taking
  • Honoring the roots of philanthropy and voluntary action while building for the future
  • Excellence
  • Collaboration and inclusiveness
  • Commitment to social justice and to improving the quality of life in communities

Ethics & Accountability

Obedience to the Unenforceable: Ethics and the Nation’s Voluntary and Philanthropic Community

Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations

The Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations ("Maryland Nonprofits") was established in 1992 as a result of a comprehensive statewide organizing effort in the nonprofit and philanthropic community. Literally hundreds of nonprofit executives and volunteer leaders helped to determine whether such an organization was needed, as well as what kinds of functions it would perform. The decision to establish a new organization was made, and Maryland Nonprofits became incorporated in the summer of 1991. Its first board of Directors was empanelled that fall.

In ten years, Maryland Nonprofits has grown to be substantial state-wide association of nonprofit organizations, and one of the largest and most successful nonprofit association nationally. Its current membership includes more than 1200 nonprofit organizations, representing all regions of the state and all sectors of the nonprofit community including human services, health, educational, cultural, environmental, religious, and other charitable organizations and foundations. The size of these organizations is also diverse, ranging from all volunteer organizations to major institutions.

Maryland Nonprofits' mission is simple: to strengthen and improve individual nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit sector as a whole, while also working to bolster public confidence in and support for nonprofit organizations. To achieve this goal, Maryland Nonprofits works through a five part program of:

  • training and technical assistance on the entire spectrum of nonprofit management topics,
  • cooperative buying programs for the purchase of employee benefits, office equipment and supplies, and other necessary goods and services,
  • information sharing and networking through informal roundtable discussion groups and monthly member mailings,
  • public policy advocacy on issues affecting the health and vitality of the nonprofit sector, and
  • research, public education and public relations to promote increased support for the nonprofit sector.

In addition to its core program activities, Maryland Nonprofits is currently involved in several special projects. First, Maryland Nonprofits is engaged in a 2 year Initiative on Ethics & Accountability in the Nonprofit Sector the goal of which is to develop a code of conduct and meaningful system of self regulation for nonprofits in Maryland. Second, Maryland Nonprofits recently released a research study, Private Action/Public Good: Maryland's Nonprofit Sector in a Time of Change, on the role of the nonprofit sector in Maryland and is continuing a variety of public education activities related to the study. Third, with a major commitment from the Morris Goldseker Foundation of Maryland, Maryland Nonprofits recently launched a Management Innovation Initiative which will assist nonprofits to explore prospects for mergers, or other methods of corporate reorganization and collaboration.

Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector

Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO)

PANO is the statewide membership organization serving and advancing the charitable nonprofit sector through leadership, advocacy, education and services in order to improve the quality of life in Pennsylvania.

Standards for Excellence

Utah Nonprofits Association

The Utah Nonprofits Association is the umbrella membership association of 501(c)(3) organizations in Utah. Incorporated in 1990, UNA was created by, and for, people who strive for a stronger, more professional not-for-profit community in Utah. The organization focuses on providing mutual support, management development through training opportunities and sector-wide advocacy. UNA is the only statewide membership association that reflects the full diversity of the nonprofit sector in Utah. UNA is Utah's official statewide affiliate of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA). The current membership includes over 300 nonprofit organizations and individual members. UNA's members represent organizations of all sizes and mission areas, including arts and culture organizations, historical societies, homeless and battered women's shelters, agencies that provide services to children and families, community development organizations, environmental groups, museums, food banks, and many other types of nonprofits

Standard of Ethics:  Core Values

WISE Giving Alliance

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance was formed in 2001 with the merger of the National Charities Information Bureau and the Council of Better Business Bureaus Foundation and its Philanthropic Advisory Service. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, affiliated with the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance collects and distributes information on hundreds of nonprofit organizations that solicit nationally or have national or international program services. It routinely asks such organizations for information about their programs, governance, fund raising practices, and finances when the charities have been the subject of inquiries.

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance never recommends one charity over another, and selects charities for evaluation based on the volume of donor inquiries about individual organizations. These policies allow the Alliance to serve donors' information needs and also help donors to make their own decisions regarding charitable giving.

All 129 local Better Business Bureaus in the United States disseminate Alliance educational materials. Local BBB's also report on organizations whose fund raising efforts are local in scope.

WISE Giving Alliance Charity Standards