Ethics online – Tools for doing good

By Todd Cohen

A new foundation is staking a claim to be digital philanthropy’s ethical champion.

Headed by fundraising professional Ted Hart, is creating tools designed to help nonprofits and donors make ethical, safe and private use of the Web for philanthropic purposes.

Key aims include promoting best online practices for nonprofits and building trust in online giving among donors.

The foundation has established a code of ethics for digital philanthropy and is developing a full-service Web site; a “trustmark” to be displayed at nonprofit and commercial e-philanthropy sites complying with the foundation’s standards; insurance for online giving; courses in e-philanthropy; and a book on online fundraising.

The foundation will provide some services for free, while charging a modest fee for others. Board members are providing funding and services to support the foundation, which also will raise philanthropic support. 

Hart, the foundation’s president and CEO and senior partner at the Maryland fundraising firm GrandStevens and Hart Groups, has assembled a board representing some of the digital-charity world’s biggest dot-org and dot-com groups.

“We want to connect the dots,” says Hart, former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System Foundation and former chief development officer for the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, both in Baltimore.

The foundation’s board is chaired by Jimmie Alford, founder, chairman and CEO of The Alford Group, a national fundraising firm based in Skokie, Ill.

The board includes chief executives or senior officials of the American Association of Retired Persons’ AARP Andrus Foundation, American Institute of Philanthropy, American Red Cross, AOL Foundation, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Blackbaud, Changing Our World, Commerce One, donordigital,, eTapestry,, Guidestar, Hewitt and Johnston Consultants, MicroEdge,, Association of Fundraising Professionals, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Target America, United Way of Tri-State (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York) and Youth Service America.

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