Eye on Ethics, March 2019 Newsletter

The Perfect Candidate?

Michael Driebe, AFP-GLAC Board Treasurer and President of Methodist Hospital Foundation recently shared with me a story about reaching out to AFP Global when he was interviewing candidates for a position at Methodist Hospital Foundation. The following is his story:

“As a long-standing member of AFP through the Greater Los Angeles Chapter, the international organization has always felt somewhat distant and less significant to me than the local one.  That perception changed recently over an issue of ethics.  

We are currently seeking a major gift officer and through a recruiter found a candidate who appeared to be the perfect fit.  His resume and interviews highlighted longevity, a track record of remarkable performance, expertise in everything from special events to planned gifts, as well as, outstanding leadership experience.  

A subsequent on-line search, however, turned up a bit of disturbing information.  His name appeared as having been sanctioned by AFP. I clicked on the link, but since it was no longer active I called the office in Alexandria, Virginia.  I reached a staff member who confirmed that someone with the same name as my candidate was sanctioned for violating one of AFP's twenty-five ethical principles and was "banned for life from membership" in the organization.  She went on to explain that the record was sealed and that she could not discuss the particulars of the case.”

“I then asked the recruiter to reach out to the candidate who emphatically stated he was ‘not aware of any such sanction.’  Thinking this might be a case of mistaken identity, AFP was contacted again, and using the candidate's employment history we found it was indeed the same person. Incidentally, we learned the candidate was well aware of the sanction as it was reported he fought it vigorously. The particulars of his sanction, including the case he made in his defense remain confidential, but because he chose not to reveal the incident and denied it ever took place, I realized I no longer had the ‘perfect candidate.’   

As you can imagine, my perception about the value of AFP has certainly changed. While I had not seen it in action as frequently as I did the Greater Los Angeles Chapter, I came to find it was just as relevant and important. I am now even more grateful for the ethical principles AFP promotes and upholds, and hope the story I've shared has helped you better appreciate our international organization, as well.”

For more information about AFP’s ethical standard and principles, please take a look at AFP Global’s website at Information included on the website is our “Code of Ethical Standards” and “Donor Bill of Rights,” a section on Enforcement & Sanctions, Ethics Complaint Forms should you need them, and much more!

Eye on Ethics, June 2018 Newsletter

The Mystery Box

As part of AFP-GLAC’s Eye on Ethics, we present ethical dilemmas from our members and share the solution. Here is a scenario that presented a serious, ethical issue:

“I was working for what I thought was a well-respected nonprofit as their Director of Development. I was trained to tell all individual and foundation donors and prospective donors about our proudest achievement, which was a multi-million dollar, multi-year grant we had won from the Department of Labor. It was an extremely competitive grant, and I believe my organization was either the only recipient or one of a very small number of recipients across the nation.

I sang the praises of our achievements with this amazing grant until one day, when I unexpectedly came upon a box of old dusty files in our director's office. At first, I was excited because I could see the box held our original grant request and all the correspondence between us and Department of Labor about the grant. I had always wanted to learn more about this grant.”

“What I learned for the first time as I read through the files was that the heart of the funded project included plans to open a large thrift shop that would be staffed by domestic violence victims and homeless and runaway youth who needed to learn work skills. Not only had this never come to fruition, but I later learned from co-workers that the organization accepted thrift store donations for years, rented a huge storage space to keep the items, and eventually began dumping the donations meant for its store at unrelated stores such as the local Goodwill in the dead of night.

The organization did let the Department of Labor know they didn't open a thrift store, but they saw no problem with publicizing far and wide their achievement in winning the grant. We were all trained to talk about a small side project the grant also covered that was completed. Meanwhile, the core of the initial proposal was never mentioned to anyone. I was shocked, had further ethical and other issues with them, and did not stay at the organization very long.”