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Ethics and Grantwriting

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Ethics includes a person or organization’s moral principles, values, and philosophy.  As a fundraiser and grantwriter, it is imperative to conduct oneself in a professional and ethical manner.  Consider the following:

1. You represent your organization.

2. You represent your organization’s organizational values.

3. You affect your organization’s image and reputation.

4. Your practices and your behavior affect your organization’s ability to raise funds.

Practice the profession with integrity.

At all times you must strive to demonstrate professional and ethical practices.

For grantwriters that means you should practice accountability in the way you present your organization in your grant proposals. Ensure that you inform potential grantors with accurate information, a truthful history, real accomplishments, and correct budgets, etc.

Do not exaggerate. Do not mislead. Do not lie.

Do not cover up information that would make a funder turn you down.

You also need to demonstrate sound accounting principles and practices.

Manage the gift acceptance process. (A gift acceptance policy or guidelines can define the steps your organization follows to receive and record grants and contributions).

Inform donors about the use of their funds. (Some funders will ask how their funds were used; some grantors require a written report after the funded project has ended). Some might not ask at all, but you should certainly let them know the results of the project.

Practice accountability by adhering to donor intentions.

You can only spend grant funds in the manner allowed by the approved grant proposal; or the instructions that came with the check; or, if you want to change any elements of the funded project, by approval of the grantor. (It’s important that everyone involved is on the same page regarding how the funds will be spent—BEFORE you submit the grant application)!