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Helpful Principles from Codes of Conduct



30. Codes of conduct (and writing down best practices, lessons learned or core office procedures and systems) are also an excellent way of retaining the institutional memory in an NGO where there are many volunteers who roll over or move on.

Independent Sector Compendium of Standards, Codes & Principles*

Christian Relief and Development Association (CRDA) Code of Conduct for NGOs in Ethiopia*

Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations*
Model code of ethical behavior entitled “Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Not-for-Profit Sector” as well as practical recommendations under the heading of 55 standards

People in Aid (UK) Code of Good Practice*

InterAction (coalition of private relief and assistance NGOs)*
Private Voluntary Organization Standards

NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN)*
Developing country Code of Conduct in English translation from Nepali, with sections on professional conduct, impartiality and financial discipline

Institute of Fundraising Codes of Practice*
Detailed primers and best practice information sheets on wide variety of fundraising topics, including practical templates and model contracts

Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN—labor and women’s advocacy organization supporting grassroots groups in Mexico and Asia)*
Implementation Guide to Ethical Licensing and Purchasing Policies

International Committee on Fundraising Organizations (Association of national monitoring agencies)*
International Standards and Survey of Monitoring Practices

Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership—Nonprofit Good Practice Guide*
Extensive online resources especially in areas of grantmaking, fundraising and financial sustainability

31. Simple and easy to implement examples of self-restrictions that are often good for public reputation relate to setting modest standards of travel and limitations on accepting excessive gifts or hospitality that may look like they could sway judgment. This usefully avoids charges of hypocrisy, and allows outsiders to see good behavior in practice.

32. There are more than enough free accreditation/monitoring organizations and umbrella NGOs, so be wary of agencies that offer their services for commercial fees.

33. Of course, occasionally accepting someone’s courtesy of a free lunch may be allowable in situations where you are not in a position to reward them with a favorable decision (especially if money is not changing hands). The rest of the time even NGOs need to be careful of this trap.

34. Whatever you do, make sure unethical behavior of members or executive officers is never rewarded or encouraged by the management structures you have in place. Frequent reminders of your code of conduct and control systems will help all members come to appreciate what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

35. It is prudent to set up a deadline (usually no more than five working days) within which collected contributions should be properly deposited in the bank account from a public solicitation fundraising campaign. This reduces unnecessary mistakes of donations getting lost or misappropriated by collectors or volunteers.

36. If you solicit for one reason, make sure you do not swap those funds to another worthy purpose, or at least have fine print (not too small) that allows this. Even though you may have a legal right to make such a swap, be careful to listen to the media and public opinion and realize when it is wiser to back down to the giving public’s view of the situation.

37. If there is a specific campaign for an appeal that requires a certain amount of donations, have a publicly announced contingency plan in place to deal with either a shortfall or excess in the collections.

38. Limit tightly the costs run up in raising your funds and regularly test to see if the solicitation methods being used are really cost effective for the results achieved. If they are not, it is time to think of a new, less expensive fundraising strategy.

39. Fundraising expenses should be reasonable compared to the actual fundraising results achieved.

40. Lavish dinner events are usually a bad idea as the media often criticizes the costs of the food or the speaker’s fee as too extravagant for a charity.

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The views expressed in this book are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank Institute nor the Asian Development Bank. Names of countries or economies mentioned are chosen by the authors, in the exercise of his/her/their academic freedom, and the Institute is in no way responsible for such usage.

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There are [2] comment(s) for this entry. Post a comment.

  1. Eric
    (posted 31 December 2009 / 02:29:09 AM)

    I think the main problem with NGOs is trying to chastise them from over-exposing themselves into areas of self promotion. I also think this is a real and overly prevalent issue which needs to be looked at as it sullies the waters for organisations which look to actually deal with issues of community development.

    I understand the irony of posting here whilst supporting an NGO but what needs to be said, for the people who are meant to be helped by these NGOs, should be said openly and in front of everyone who would take away someone's quality of life for a quick non-profit buck.

    I dont know the solution but I do perceive of the problem and hear about it all too often from people who have mixed with the wrong organisation. It's time to all grow up and deal with important matters in important ways.
  2. Susan B. Somers
    (posted 25 April 2008 / 09:57:15 AM)

    Governance of NGOs can be as difficult as getting governments to change policy in human rights areas, however, good governance is essential if we are to accomplish our goals. It has been somewhat troubling to me that there has not been more support for NGOs over the years in this area. Therefore, when I first "discovered" this valuable resource, found it to be incredibly useful and that it was free to all, I could not have been more pleased.
    Now we have to spread the word that help is near. Thank you for your foresight and concern that we in the world of NGOs don't always have the luxury of experience in this area. This will make a difference.

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