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Sample Code of Ethics for Non-Profit Organizations

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					                          DEVELOPING A CODE OF ETHICS
                            FOR NON PROFIT AGENCIES


Before You Begin          Ensure participation of Board and staff in developing the
                          Code:

                              •   Ad hoc or standing committee
                              •   Formal and informal employee input
                              •   Staff officer with assigned responsibility for Code
                                  development, implementation and enforcement

Step One                  Identify the issues you need to address:

                              •   Review existing documents in your organization
                              •   Solicit suggestions from Board and staff members about
                                  topics needing policy guidance
                              •   Review sample codes from other organizations (see
                                  www.independentsector.org/issues/accountability/standards.html)
                                  for examples from a wide range of organizations
                              •   Talk with colleagues in similar agencies
                              •   Some common topics to consider:

                                  •   Conflict of Interest
                                  •   Meals, Gifts and Entertainment
                                  •   Use of Agency Resources
                                  •   Confidentiality and Privacy
                                  •   Financial Reporting and Disclosure
                                  •   Equal Opportunity and Diversity
                                  •   Sexual Harassment
                                  •   Fund Raising and Donor Relationships
                                  •   Legal and Regulatory Compliance
                                  •   Workplace Safety

Step Two                  Outline the Key Components

                              •   Determine the style and scope (simple summary
                                  document, detailed polices with examples, “Q&A,”
                                  printed brochure or photocopied document, etc.)
                              •   Preamble or Letter from Board Chair/Executive Director
                                  (why the Code)
                              •   Link as appropriate to Vision, Mission and Values
                              •   Role Responsibilities: Board’s Role, Management Role,
                                  Employee Responsibility
                              •   Specific Topics (see list from Step One)
                              •   Where to Turn for Help (guidance for employees)
                              •   Signature Acknowledging Receipt and Understanding




Prepared by Dr. Michael Rion, Resources for Ethics and Management, www.rionethics.com
Developing a Code of Ethics
For Non Profit Agencies                                                                   page 2


Step Three             Draft the Details of the Code

                              •   Draft the specific policies and the other components listed in
                                  Step Two, relying on your own ideas, those of Board
                                  members and staff, and examples from other organizations


Step Four              Test the Draft for Clarity and Alignment

                              •   Seek feedback on the draft document from Board and staff
                              •   Revise and refine as needed based on feedback

Step Five              Adopt and Circulate the Code

                              •   Adopt the Code formally through Board action
                              •   Ensure that every staff and Board member receives a copy
                              •   Schedule information sessions as needed to introduce the
                                  Code to all staff, with opportunity for questions

Step Six               Keep the Code Alive

                              •   Pay attention to feedback, questions, or unanticipated issues
                                  that arise
                              •   Periodically assess the adequacy and up-to-date relevance of
                                  all sections of the Code, then revise as necessary
                              •   Regularly remind staff and Board of the Code and its main
                                  points

Additional Resources:

Conducting an Ethics Audit (Colorado Association of NonProfit Organizations, 1994)

Ethics and the Nation’s Voluntary and Philanthropic Community: Obedience to the
Unenforceable (Independent Sector: 1991)

How to Manage Conflicts of Interest: A Guide for Nonprofit Boards (Washington, DC: National
Center for Non Profit Boards, 1995).

Responsible Family Philanthropy: A Resource Book on Ethical Decision Making for Family
Foundations by Michael Rion (Council on Foundations, 1998)

www.compasspoint.org    Compass Point Nonprofit Services (publishes informative email
                        newsletter “Board Café”)
www.jiethics.org        Josephson Institute of Ethics with many helpful links
www.globalethics.org    Institute for Global Ethics with many helpful links and weekly update on
                        ethics in the news in all sectors of society




Developed by Dr. Michael Rion, Resources for Ethics and Management, www.rionethics.com

				
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