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Donor-intent poses ethical challenge

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In the course of doing their jobs, the ethical challenge fundraisers most commonly face involves donors’ intentions about how their contributions are to be used, a new survey says.

About 30 percent of respondents to a recent poll say the ethical dilemma they are most likely to face is “use of donated funds,” says the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which conducted an online poll on its website during January.

About 16 percent of the 569 respondents say privacy and confidentiality are the top ethical challenge, while 15 percent cite “donor control over gifts.”

Issues involving the use of donated funds include ensuring a donors’ gift is used in the way requested, maintaining proper records and documentation, and updating donors when circumstances change.

“The purpose and restrictions on a gift may be clear at the beginning,” Paulette Maehara, president and CEO of AFP, says in a statement. “But as circumstances and the environment change, they may become ambiguous – or the goal for which the money was given may be attained, and other uses for the gift may have to be found.”

“It’s critical that fundraisers and donors work together and develop proper documentation to ensure disagreements do not arise,” she says.

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