Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The Ethics Resource Center published its findings in the National Nonprofit Ethics Survey to give an inside look at the sector’s code of ethics. But, the view isn’t pretty.
The Ethics Resource Center interviewed 3,452 employees spanning the three sectors, with 558 respondents from nonprofits, and polled them on issues such as misconduct, ethics and violations in the workplace.
Nonprofit employees reported observing the highest levels of misconduct since the survey started in 2000 with 55 percent of employees saying they witnessed a form of misconduct in the past year. That level is on par with business (56 percent) and government (57 percent).
Financial misconduct was also reported among nonprofits and eight percent admitted that they saw financial fraud – compared to the 5 percent of employees in the business sector.
Misconduct included putting own interests ahead of the organization (21 percent), abusive behavior (19 percent) and misreporting working hours (19 percent).
Approximately 38 percent of employees who observed misconduct chose not to report to management, with top reasons including doubts that anything would change and fear of retaliation. Employees were least likely to report environmental violations, the misuse of confidential information and Internet abuses.
Strong management made a difference – but in a negative way. Nonprofit employees felt that top management set the ethical tone more than their business and government counterparts.
And those organizations with a board of directors are 18 percent less likely to think that the organization has strong leadership compared to organizations that have an executive director or president at the top. Employees that had a board of directors generally had less trust in the management and their accountability.
The survey showed that an ethics risk was greatly reduced when organization leaders established an organization-wide ethics and compliance program. The Ethics Resource Center recommended that organizations assess themselves and cultivate a working environment that will address misconduct.
Everyone is unique. At the recent Conference for Nonprofits sponsored by Blackbaud Inc., Christy Lowell, school solutions interest specialist at Blackbaud, illustrated how there can be a wide divergence of interest even among a group that would appear to have much in common.
Further, she demonstrated how a Web site can cater to each unique constituent. Using the example of a college, Lowell showed that:
- Prospects/applicants (potential students) want:An eye-catching home page that will make them read further about the school; to see potential friends and activities; to read "day in the life' stories and blogs.
- Applicant parents want:Virtual tours of the school; easy navigation to find information; one-stop shopping.
- You want parents to see:An easy search for information; eventual application to the school; slick marketing; reduction in paperwork, new dollars coming in.
- Current students want:A one-stop shop for information and an ability to crate their own community.
- You want students to:Find information easily and quickly; view grades and assignments; use the school email system; come back to the site long after graduation.
- Faculty want:Teacher pages; seamless sign-on to grade books; directories.
- You want faculty to:Use the self-service tools to reduce administrative work; send emails to students; update teacher pages.
- Alumni want:Reconnection; a sense of pride; a job board.
- You want alumni to see:Information and images that make them want to re-engage with the school.