Fundraisers and donors: the ethics of obtaining donations

This topic was discussed within the context of the theme “What’s new in fundraising – a dialogue about ethics”, initiated by the charity “Who – if not me?” at the 8th annual conference of the Donors’ Forum on Charitable Giving in Russia – New Rules of the Game. According to the head of the Russian branch of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Igor Zevelev, the ethical values of grant-giving organisations and recipient organisations are based on similar criteria. Both try to ensure full usage of resources, transparency, minimising administrative expenditure, and avoiding conflicts of interest. The Vice-Chairman and Head of Marketing in the Department of Public Information of VTB Bank, Yevgenia Mamsurova, described the principles of the charitable activities of the bank. “We found that the bank’s charitable activity needed to be within a framework and directed into specific areas. This makes it more honest, appropriate and effective than to try to do everything. We decided not to work with foundations. We selected children’s healthcare – helping hospitals and major medical centres to obtain expensive equipment”. Elisaveta Aleksandrova, Director of Corporate Communications at L’Oreal, also referred to the difficulties involved in deciding which initiatives to support. “It’s difficult to explain to people who have asked for help why you are not able to do so”, she said. Olga Reiman, president of the charity “Who – if not me?” spoke about problems of providing funding. The charity delivers social programmes to help children, using funding provided by private and legal entities. Up to 20% of the funds received can in fact be consumed by administrative costs. But donors are not keen to cover such costs, she said. They prefer their funds to be spent directly on programmes, and do not understand why they should be used to keep the charity afloat. This may be because their ideas of ethics in charitable giving do not take account of the needs of charities.

Participants in the meeting came to the conclusion that it would be difficult to put together a set of ethical rules which would be acceptable to everyone. At the same time, they agreed that it was important to discuss the ethical questions which arise in attracting funds for charitable uses.


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