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Posted on Feb 1, 2012

Fundraising Ethics

Fundraising Ethics

by Gerald Ebbers, SCSBC Consultant for Stewardship and Development ◊

Occasionally I am asked by a board or committee member if the school can reimburse their development staff with a percentage of the funds that the staff member raises.  The answer to that is straightforward and unequivocal:

NO. It is unethical. Check the website of the Association of Fundraising Professionals ( The reason is that such a practice puts pressure on the fundraiser to secure their compensation by getting a donation, perhaps by using undue pressure or misrepresentation. It also leads to a short term view of development:  getting a gift now rather than developing a life-long relationship between the donor and the charity. It is, therefore, counterproductive and not in the long term interest of the charity. 

Development is first and foremost a program for sharing the vision and mission of the school with people, building a relationship with them, and then inviting them to support the school in whatever way they are able. That could be with their time, or their talent, or their treasure.

For Christians, development work and fundraising has a much deeper, spiritual dimension because giving is an act of faith. For the Christian, then, all giving occurs within our relationship with God. And scripture makes clear that our giving is blessed only when it comes from a heart that is full of gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. When a Christian fundraiser meets with a donor to ask for a gift for the school, then the fundraiser is offering the donor an opportunity to demonstrate their faith and that decision is a private conversation between the donor and God. To use the outcome of that conversation as a basis for compensation for the fundraiser would denigrate giving to the level of a commercial transaction rather than an act of faith.

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