NEWS: How to apply normative ethical frameworks to ethical dilemmas in fundraising practice

The latest article to be published in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing’s special issue on fundraising ethic looks at how to apply normative ethics to practical decision-making by identifying the overarching ethical questions affecting fundraising practice.

In the paper, Claire Routley and Cherian Koshy identify two sets of overarching ethical questions, that can be used as decision making rules: 

  1. Where are the lines in who we approach for/receive resources from for our organisation? 
  2. Where are the lines in how we approach people for resources for our organisation?

With a series of questions within each overarching category, such as:

  • How do we balance the needs of current and future beneficiaries (e.g., investing in long-term and short-term sources of income)
  • How do we balance the needs of individual charities versus those of the wider sector (e.g., suggesting we have zero cost of fundraising can benefit our charity but make others’ performance appear comparatively poor)?

Claire and Cherian then consider these questions in the light of Trustist, Donorcentrist and Rights-Balancing ethical approaches, concluding that Rights-Balancing has most potential to resolve ethical dilemmas because it includes beneficiaries and rights of stakeholders can be clearly defined.

This work by Claire and Cherian – both members of the Rogare Council – therefore extends Rogare’s work on developing the normative idea Rights-Balancing Fundraising Ethics into applied ethics.

As Cherian says on a post about the paper on his LinkedIn feed:

“While there is a great danger in over-simplification, particularly in ethics, we believe this is a helpful approach to developing a greater critical inquiry into a normative ethical framework for fundraising.”

You can find the paper on the JPM website here.

The ideas in the paper have been developed and refined from the work Claire and Cherian did, with others,* at Rogare on legacy FR ethics during the pandemic, which you can find it here.

*Those others being Lucy Lowthian, Michael Rosen, Heather Hill, Ligia Pena, Meredith Niles, Roewen Wishart and Andrew Watt.

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