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Ethics initiative launched

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Urging all nonprofits to adopt and follow a code of ethics, Independent Sector has launched an accountability initiative that includes a new online compendium of nonprofit standards, codes and principles.

The online resource features standards from more than 60 groups ranging from charity watchdogs and nonprofit associations to professional associations and foundations.

The national membership and advocacy group for nonprofits also has released a revised edition of a publication on ethics it originally published in 1991, and formed an Ethics and Accountability Committee chaired by William R. Trueheart, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation.

The publication, “Obedience to the Unenforceable: Ethics and the Nation’s Voluntary and Philanthropic Community,” calls for all nonprofit and philanthropic groups to adopt an organizational code of ethical practices, conduct an annual ethics audit, follow a set of standards and involve their constituencies in the ethics process.

The publication also suggests sample language for an organizational code and tools to resolve ethical questions.

“Public trust is the sine qua non of the nonprofit sector,” Sara Melendez, president and CEO of Independent Sector, says in a statement. “During this time of economic uncertainty, the sector’s organizations will be increasingly challenged to do more with less, but it will be impossible to meet the challenge without the financial support and volunteer efforts of our fellow citizens.

“It is critical,” she says, “that nonprofits and foundations continuously strengthen their accountability systems to assure the public – especially contributors and volunteers – that the trust they have placed in the sector is well-deserved.”

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