Association of Fundraising Professionals Ethics Survey

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) released some of its findings from an online survey of its members earlier this year focused on professional ethical issues.

Frequency of addressing ethical challenges or dilemmas:

  • 50% reported once per year
  • 23% reported never
  • 17% reported roughly six times per year
  • 8% reported once per month

Preparedness for addressing ethical challenges or dilemmas:

  • Average rating of 3.96 on a scale of 1 – 5 (with 5 meaning most prepared, 1 least prepared) 

Common ethical challenges for which respondents need more guidance and resources:

  • Donor control and restrictions on how gifts – 48%
  • Conflicts of interest – 41%
  • “Tainted” money from donors – 40%

However, throughout the survey, several issues kept arising that members were interested in seeing AFP address through its Code of Ethics or through other means. These included sexual harassment, racial and gender bias, working with elderly donors, and online crowdfunding platforms.


Among other issues raised by respondents:  a code of ethics or behavior policy for donors. This is not at all surprising with all of the news (e.g., Museums Cut Ties With Sacklers as Outrage Over Opioid Crisis Grows, Fundraisers Take Stand In Epstein Scandal, Sexual Harassment Is Widespread Problem for Fundraisers, Survey Shows) and books (e.g., Winners Take All, Just Giving, Decolonizing Wealth) focused on the behavior of major donors and the sources of their contributions.

Additional Resources:

Nonprofit Law and Ethics

Top 5 Fundraising Legal Tips

6 More Fundraising Legal Tips

Ethical Fundraising (National Council of Nonprofits)

Code of Ethical Principles and Standards (AFP)

The Donor Bill of Rights (AFP)

International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising (CFRE)