Newsmaker: The new internationalist

Paulette Maehara of the US Association of Fundraising Professionals is spearheading the International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising

The second sentence of paragraph five was the main bugbear when the new International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising was being hammered out. It says: “Fundraisers should not accept commissions or compensation based upon a percentage of the funds raised.”
Paulette Maehara, chief executive of the US Association of Fundraising Professionals, says this caused more difficulty than anything else in the four-year process of drawing up the statement, now signed by fundraising bodies in 24 countries.
“In the US we prohibit taking a percentage of the money raised,” she says. “In the UK the Institute of Fundraising discourages it, but there are other regions where it is considered all right, especially in eastern Europe.
“We had to have a lot of dialogue and a lot of compromise about the language to be used, and eventually we agreed on using the word ‘should’.”
The impetus for the new code came from a conference of her association in Toronto five years ago, when participants realised that fundraising was expanding rapidly round the world but had no international structures similar to those of, for example, the medical profession.
“We’re finding it incredibly useful, especially for countries that are just developing their fundraising practices,” says Maehara. “It’s an umbrella document that sits above any local codes, and it deals with the professional obligations of fundraisers.”
The statement’s development was led by the AFP, the Institute of Fundraising in the UK and the Fundraising Institute of Australia. It began with a review of the codes of fundraising associations in 30 countries and should be finalised in the next few months.
“I’m going to tell the convention about what the statement means, how it’s perceived in the world and what we went through in getting agreement,” says Maehara.
She says that the percentage commissions of Jeffrey Archer in his early days as a fundraiser came up frequently in discussions. “If I’d taken 10 per cent commission on everything I’d raised, I wouldn’t be working today,” she jokes.

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