Ethical Standards for Nonprofit Managers

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Ethical Standards for the Nonprofit Executive

Lekisha D. Joseph

Troy State University

Executive Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations


Dr. Mary Hetrick

November 29, 2009



Ethical Standards for the Nonprofit Executive

Whenever someone mentions ethical standards, the first things that come to mind are usually not discrimination, harassment, abuse of power, or intimidating behavior. The unfortunate truth is that most of the time we do not hear or pay attention to ethical executives until they have done something unethical. Many times the misconduct is so outrageous and the abuse is usually one of an enormous proportion. Of course, the media has painted the image of the shameful Chief Executive Officer who is holding a press conference admitting that he had poor judgment in a particular situation. Most of the images the media has imbedded in the public's minds are mostly from corporate executives.

Nonprofit executives have had their day in the sun as well. Unfortunately, with the number of nonprofits steadily rising, unethical practices within organizations are not just reserved for corporations and for-profits. According to a study by the Ethics Resource Center, in "2007, nonprofit violations have reached levels comparable to business and government organizations" (Ethics Resource Center, 2007). The extensive list of nonprofit executives whom once vowed to see the mission of the organization through, have fallen into the category of failing to fulfill their ethical standards. From the most notable organizations such as United Way, Red Cross, American University, Smithsonian Institution, and EduCap Inc., to local charities, these nonprofit executives have failed to "demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty, and fortitude in all activities in order to inspire confidence and trust in their activities" (The...