chapter 40 When You Encounter Ethical Dilemmas

In our everyday language, we use a lot of words and phrases related to being a good person fairly interchangeably: a person might be honest, have a lot of integrity, always tell the truth; he or she might be highly principled, decent, fair, or just. Although philosophers and linguists (and the dictionary) can probably sort out the nuances of meaning among these words, I simply hope that all of us are doing our best to be all of the above. To behave ethically will have all these elements, and certainly an honest person will have a far easier time being ethical than will someone who is sneaky or deceitful. However, ethics are usually grounded in a large moral framework and involve issues of a broader nature than simply personal behavior. In this chapter, I look at some problems that can’t be solved simply by applying accepted standards of honesty or integrity, but require in addition some broader ethical considerations.

Fundraisers often run up against dilemmas that test their honesty, but right and wrong behavior are still fairly obvious. For example, it is dishonest to tell a funder or a donor that you are engaged in a certain kind of program if you are not, no matter how much money that donor might give you if she thought you were. Similarly, it lacks integrity to take on a program area or a piece of work just because someone has offered to fund it. It is not fair to other employees or the mission of the organization to agree ...

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