The Mikuska Group  

Is it ethical to expect fundraisers to raise their own salary?

I recently noticed a job posting for an executive director for a non-profit organization for a one-year term, whose continuity in the job “is dependent upon sufficient funds being raised to allow the position to continue.”

A major focus of the job description is on fundraising and fund development. By explicitly tying the fundraising to the continuation of the position, the Board of this organization puts the executive director in a potential conflict of interest with donors and prospects. How so?

Imagine the ED negotiating with a donor, who is thinking of a supporting the organization with a planned gift. Prospect research shows the donor may be capable of giving a major cash gift now. An ethical fundraiser would present the benefits of giving now and planning gifts, and would work with the donor to ensure the donor’s and the organization’s best interests are respected. An unethical fundraiser, faced with raising enough to cover his or her salary, might pressure the donor into making an uncomfortable cash gift, and as a result sour the relationship for future support.

Fundraisers are not exempt from performance evaluation. But it should be based on advancing the mission of the organization and not on self-interest. The reality is that for this organization, they may be able to hire for one year only. But ethics dictate the ED not be placed in a conflict of interest situation to the detriment of all.

Julie Mikuska


Blog Archives

Articles By Category