FYI Blog

And the Oscar Goes To…

My last post on ethics, Fundraising’s Dark Side and What To Do About It, was written at the height of the 50 Worst Charities scandal. I was—and still am—concerned about the hard look in the mirror that both nonprofits and nonprofit service providers must take. Are we doing everything we can to lead ethical organizations? Are we training our newest team members on industry ethics? Are we holding our seasoned veterans accountable? Only then can we respond meaningfully to the legitimate concerns raised by the 50 Worst Charities investigation.


At Avalon, we have spent most of 2013 taking the hard look described above. This was fortuitously precipitated by our nomination for the National Capital Business Ethics Award (NCBEA). Participation required both reflection on and documentation of our commitment to ethics from a number of angles. To get an idea, consider this list of the topics covered in our application and interviews: executive commitment, corporate policies, training programs, employee satisfaction, community involvement, and, of course, specific examples of ethical decision making.


Avalon 2 and co-chairsAnd, drumroll please…WE WON! Avalon was awarded the NCBEA’s 2013 ethics award in the small business category. The awards ceremony was a fun and inspiring event spent in conversation with other professionals who, like us, believe that good ethics make good business. Allison Porter and I were in attendance, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, it was a huge thrill to hear the judges call Avalon to the podium.


As fun as that evening was, the staff meeting that followed was even better. We shared a video of the judges’ remarks, which not only complimented Avalon’s managerial ethic, but also praised the entire Avalon staff for understanding and embracing it. Of course, we already knew that the Avalon team is comprised of honest and earnest fundraisers who are committed to our clients’ best interests. But we welcome the affirmation and the opportunity to say THANK YOU to each of them for their part in the honor.

Equally important, we appreciate the opportunity to reflect and recommit to integrity in all that Avalon does. This applies not only to fundraising, but also to our consulting and business practices. Since we began the NCBEA process in January, we have enhanced our staff ethics education, and we have volunteered a representative to the ADRFCO ethics committee. We also reach out to you in conversation through this blog and our daily interactions as fundraising colleagues.


We realize—and hope you do too—that this process is ongoing. Ethical codes and written commitments are valuable because they set direction. However, the truly meaningful “work” of ethics is embedded in the decisions that we make every day. While we are deeply honored by the recognition of the prestigious NCBEA 2013 ethics award, we understand that our work is not completed by it. Rather, the award raises the bar. We welcome this opportunity to pledge continued commitment to all of Avalon’s constituents—employees, partners, vendors, industry colleagues and, of course, our clients.