Building the Ethics Infrastructure of Your Charity
This article was published in the Charity Council’s Newsletter Issue 6.
The word “charity” is derived from “caritas,” which in Latin means love, dearness and costliness. Any charity organisation that operates today must be run with a genuine concern for its beneficiaries, as well as a high level of stewardship.
With this in mind, all it takes is a single instance of misconduct within a charity to not only damage its reputation, but threaten its existence. Charities should therefore fiercely enforce high standards of ethical behaviour among staff and volunteers. However, this is difficult considering that a mistake made by one individual reflects on the entire organisation.
Being responsible for your charity’s reputation means taking measures to ensure that all of your staff and volunteers conduct themselves in an ethical way when dealing with partners, donors, volunteers, beneficiaries and stakeholders. So where do you start?
Some charities use a code of conduct to encourage ethical and moral behaviour in its staff and volunteers while others use regular dialogues and reminders to create behavioural awareness. Although codes of conduct are effective in communicating standards of behaviour to staff, they must be supported by a robust ethics infrastructure.
Ethics infrastructures include training, active monitoring of staff compliance and protection for staff who “blow the whistle” on unacceptable behaviour. An ethical infrastructure must also be embraced by your board of directors and management in order to support an ethical culture within the organisation. Charities that are serious about fulfilling their mission and vision must continue to meet the behavioural expectations of their stakeholders in terms of ethical behaviour.
Written by The Shared Services for Charities (SSC)