Institute for Charitable Giving

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An Ethical Dilemma

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Sometimes, it isn’t even a matter of ethics. It’s simply a question of what is the right thing to do.

I just received a note from Frederica. That’s not her real name. She asked me not to use it.
She wrote, “I came across an ethical dilemma. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this case.
“Our institution solicits a highly respected philanthropist from our community. I’m not the person assigned to make the contact, develop the stewardship, or ask. That is the Director’s role, a very effective and seasoned fundraiser.
“It happens that this Director has an extremely close relationship with the donor. In addition, the donor and his wife are close friends with the Director’s parents.
“As part of a good stewardship program, the Director invites the donor and his wife to attend a fundraising event. It’s an inspiring affair.
“Our institution paid for the tickets for the events. The donors were our guests.
“At the event, there is a raffle. It’s a hundred dollars a ticket. The donor bought a bunch of tickets and gave one to the Director who invited him to the event.
“You can see what’s coming. The raffle item is a vacation in a very luxurious place— all expenses paid. The Director’s ticket is the winning ticket. The winning ticket!
“Neither the donor nor anyone in his family is interested in going. The Director, however, is very interested in going. What should she do?”
You can see how easily this sort of thing can happen. Not too long ago, it actually happened with one of my clients. It was a raffle at their Gala for a beautiful, red Volkswagen convertible. The fundraiser won it.
What to do? Is it all right for the fundraiser to keep the prize? Should it be returned? Should there be another drawing?
Please let me have your comments on what you feel the fundraiser should have done in the case of the luxurious vacation. I’ll tell you what she did do. You can respond here.
For all who respond, you will receive a copy of our latest, THE LITTLE GOLD BOOK. It’s all about the passion and commitment a board member should bring to their organization.


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