After scandal, fundraisers debate ethics
Having witnessed the damaging one-round knockout of NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller in March, public radio’s development pros are working to adapt the lessons they’ve learned about ethics and prudence into a set of best-practices guidelines for use throughout the field. But they’re already tiptoeing around a clear discrepancy between the major ethical code of professional fundraisers and a common practice in public broadcasting — paid commissions on underwriting sales. DEI, the national agency for pubradio fundraising that convenes its annual Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in Pittsburgh later this week, has assembled a group to draft ethical standards for fundraising in nonprofit public media. DEI is leading the re-evaluation as part of its CPB-backed Leadership for Philanthropy project, which aims to help stations improve their major-gift fundraising. The main starting point for DEI’s advisory council is the Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which prohibits commission-based compensation for nonprofit fundraisers.