As a matter of fundamental principle, the nonprofit and philanthropic community should adhere to the highest ethical standards because it is the right thing to do. As a matter of pragmatic self-interest, the community should do so because public trust in our performance is the bedrock of our legitimacy. Donors and volunteers support charitable organizations because they trust them to carry out their missions, to be good stewards of their resources, and to uphold rigorous standards of conduct.
Nonprofit and philanthropic organizations must earn this trust every day and in every possible way. But organizations are, at base, people, and it is up to the people of the independent sector―board members, executive leaders, staff, and volunteers―to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the core values of integrity, honesty, fairness, openness, respect, and responsibility.
The independent sector comprises a diverse array of organizations large and small, those that make grants and those that raise funds from the public, those that operate at the community and national level and those that work outside the United States. That diversity is one of the abiding strengths of our sector. Undergirding this diversity, however, must be a common set of ethical standards.
Adherence to the law is the minimum standard of expected behavior. Nonprofit and philanthropic organizations must do more, however, than simply obey the law. We must embrace the spirit of the law, often going beyond legal requirements and making sure that what we do is matched by what the public understands about what we do. Transparency, openness, and responsiveness to public concerns must be integral to our behavior.
Statement of Values
The Children’s Scholarship Fund values include:
- Commitment to the public good
- Commitment to the CSF mission
- Accountability to the public
- Commitment beyond the law to the spirit and intent of the law
- Respect for the worth and dignity of individuals
- Inclusiveness and social justice
- Respect for pluralism and diversity
- Transparency, integrity, and honesty
- Responsible stewardship of resources
- Commitment to excellence and to maintaining the public trust
The Code of Ethics
I. Personal and Professional Integrity
All staff, board members, and volunteers of the Children’s Scholarship Fund (“CSF”) will act with honesty, integrity, and openness in all their dealings as representatives of the organization. CSF promotes a working environment that values respect, fairness, and integrity.
CSF has a clearly stated mission and purpose. All of its programs support that mission and all who work for or on behalf of CSF understand and are loyal to that mission and purpose. The mission is responsive to the constituency and communities served by CSF and of value to the society at large.
CSF has an active Board of Directors that is responsible for setting the mission and strategic direction of the organization and oversight of the finances, operations, and policies of the organization. The Board of Directors:
- Ensures that its board members have the requisite skills and experience to carry out their duties and that all members understand and fulfill their governance duties acting for the benefit of the organization and its public purpose;
- Has a conflict of interest policy that ensures that any conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof are avoided or appropriately managed through disclosure, recusal, or other means;
- Is responsible for the hiring, firing, and regular review of the performance of the President and other officers, and ensures that their compensation is reasonable and appropriate;
- Ensures that the President, Chief Financial Officer, and appropriate staff provide the governing body with timely and comprehensive information so that the governing body can effectively carry out its duties;
- Ensures that the organization conducts all transactions and dealings with integrity and honesty;
- Ensures that the organization promotes working relationships with board members, staff, volunteers, and program beneficiaries that are based on mutual respect, fairness, and openness;
- Ensures that the organization is fair and inclusive in its hiring and promotion policies and practices for all board, staff, and volunteer positions;
- Ensures that policies of the organization are in writing and clearly articulated;
- Ensures that the resources of the organization are responsibly and prudently managed; and
- Ensures that the organization has the capacity to carry out its programs effectively.
IV. Legal Compliance
CSF is knowledgeable of and complies with all laws, regulations, and applicable international conventions.
V. Responsible Stewardship
CSF manages its funds responsibly and prudently. This includes the following considerations:
- It spends a reasonable percentage of its annual budget on programs in pursuance of its mission;
- It spends an adequate amount on administrative expenses to ensure effective accounting systems, internal controls, competent staff, and other expenditures critical to professional management;
- CSF compensates staff, and any others who may receive compensation, reasonably and appropriately;
- CSF has reasonable fundraising costs, recognizing the variety of factors that affect fundraising costs;
- CSF does not accumulate operating funds excessively; and
- All financial reports are factually accurate and complete in all material respects.
VI. Openness and Disclosure
CSF provides comprehensive and timely information to the public, the media, and all stakeholders and is responsive in a timely manner to reasonable requests for information. All information about the organization will fully and honestly reflect the policies and practices of the organization. Basic informational data about CSF, such as the Form 990 and audited financial statements will be posted on our website or otherwise available to the public. All solicitation materials accurately represent CSF’s policies and practices and will reflect the dignity of scholarship beneficiaries. All financial, organizational, and program reports will be complete and accurate in all material respects.
VII. Program Evaluation
CSF regularly reviews program effectiveness and has mechanisms to incorporate lessons learned into future programs. CSF is committed to improving program and organizational effectiveness and develops mechanisms to promote learning from its activities and the field. CSF is responsive to changes in its field of activity and is responsive to the needs of its constituencies.
VIII. Inclusiveness and Diversity
CSF has a policy of promoting inclusiveness and its staff, board, and volunteers reflect diversity in order to enrich its programmatic effectiveness. CSF takes meaningful steps to promote inclusiveness in its hiring, retention, promotion, board recruitment, and constituencies served.
CSF is truthful in its solicitation materials. CSF respects the privacy concerns of individual donors and expends funds consistent with donor intent. CSF discloses important and relevant information to potential donors.
In raising funds from the public, CSF will respect the rights of donors, as follows:
- To be informed of our mission, the way the resources will be used, and our capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes;
- To be informed of the identity of those serving on CSF’s board and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities;
- To have access to CSF’s most recent financial reports;
- To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given;
- To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition;
- To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by the law;
- To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature;
- To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organizations, or hired solicitors;
- To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share; and
- To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful, and forthright answers.
X. Grantmaker Guidelines
In making grants to other organizations CSF has particular responsibilities including the following:
- CSF will have constructive relations with grantseekers based on mutual respect and shared goals;
- CSF will communicate clearly and on a timely basis with potential grantees;
- CSF will treat grantseekers and grantees fairly and with respect;
- CSF will respect the expertise of grantseekers in their fields of knowledge;
- CSF will seek to understand and respect the organizational capacity and needs of grantseeking organizations; and
- CSF will respect the integrity of the mission of grantseeking organizations.