Organizational Structure

Code of Ethics

Note: Articles published before January 1, 2017 may be out of date. We are in the process of updating this content.

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One of the most constructive and proactive ways a board can send a message that its organization is committed to accountability, responsiveness, and stewardship is to draft a code of ethics to guide its board and staff in their activities and behavior. A code of ethics may not prevent wrong doing and unethical behavior but it makes known the organizational beliefs and values and it clarifies the consequences if someone errs on the wrong side of the fence.

Here are some sample codes of ethics — some of them serve as codes of standards as well:

Independent Sector https://www.independentsector.org/code_of_ethics

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance http://www.bbb.org/stlouis/charities-donors/standards-for-charity-accountability/ 

Maryland Association of Nonprofits Standards for Excellence Institute http://www.standardsforexcellenceinstitute.org/dnn/TheCode.aspx 

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits http://www.minnesotanonprofits.org/PrinciplesPractices.pdf

The Donor Bill of Rights http://www.afpnet.org/Ethics/EnforcementDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=3359