A compelling look into the sensitive topic of inappropriate behaviors exhibited by donors towards nonprofit organizations. Angela Barnes from Carter Global and Jack Alotto from Fundraising Academy explore the deep issues and emerging solutions within the nonprofit sector.

Angela vividly articulates the longstanding issue, noting that problematic donor behaviors, though historically discussed only behind closed doors, have begun to garner public attention. She describes the critical feedback they have received and the substantial progress being made in addressing these concerns. “It’s a subject we’re talking about, but it’s gone on for decades within the sector,” Angela says, pointing to the persistent nature of the problem.

Jack adds historical context, referencing a study by AFP on sexual harassment that included not only donors but also board members and staff. This info sparked deeper considerations about the underlying causes of such behaviors. “It got me thinking about what’s going on here and what we are maybe doing that is part of the cause,” as Jack describes his concern and approach to the issue.

A significant focus of this informative conversation is the proposal of a “donor code of ethics” as a structured response to these challenges. This initiative aims to establish clear expectations and boundaries between nonprofits and their donors, ensuring respectful and ethical interactions. Angela and Jack discuss the necessity of organizational documents that outline these boundaries and how they should be communicated through this donor code.

As the conversation continues, it becomes clear that the nonprofit sector‘s reliance on donors sometimes complicates the response to inappropriate behaviors, with organizational leaders often hesitating to confront or alienate contributors. Jack and Angela argue for a balance between securing resources and maintaining ethical standards, pointing to the importance of respecting and protecting staff and organizational values over accepting donations.

Angela and Jack provide a roadmap for nonprofits to empower themselves and redefine the dynamics with their donors, one that emphasizes ethics, respect, and mutual values.