We describe below a number of basic materials about codes of ethics on the Internet. Though the following list is not comprehensive, it provides good examples of the types of codes being used by nongovernmental organizations and others. There is included a variety of sources so that you can get a sense of the types of resources available.
Codes of Ethics Governing Nonprofit Organizations -- General
- Handbook on Good Practices for Laws relating to Non-governmental Organizations. Appendix II of this handbook prepared for The World Bank by ICNL is the report of a Central and East European Working Group on Self-Regulation, prepared in conjunction with a conference held in Sinaia, Romania in 1994. The Handbook and its appendices can be found on ICNL’s website at www.icnl.org/handbook/index.html.
- Code of Conduct for NGOs in Ethiopia. This code of conduct for Ethiopian NGOs is reprinted in the second issue of ICNL’s International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law. The journal can be found at www.icnl.org/journal/vol2iss1/frames.html. ICNL’s website contains other information relating to self-regulation as well.
- Standards of National Philanthropy of the National Charities Information Bureau (“NCIB”). NCIB rates large United States charities according to standards in nine areas. These standards are available on NCIB’s website at www.give.org/standards/ncibstds.asp.
- Standards of Excellenc: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. The Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations recently issued a code of conduct, and is in the process of testing a certification procedure for its members. The standards can be found at www.marylandnonprofits.org/html/standards/MarylandStandards_2005.pdf.pdf.
- Standards of Accountability. The Charity Review Council in Minnesota has identified sixteen standards that all charities ought to meet to ensure transparency and accountability. The Standards can be found at www.smartgivers.org/sites/623b9026-c292-4f47-9b9d-8aac6d22782d/uploads/Accountability_Standards_with_Philosophies.pdf.
- Declaracion de Principios de las Organizaciones No Gubernamentales (ONG) de Colombia. This code of principles governs the activities of Colombian NGOs. It was published in the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law’s July issue, at www.icnl.org/journal/vol3iss1/frames.html.
- SANGOCO Code of Ethics for NGOs. SANGOCO is an NGO umbrella organization in South Africa. The organization adopted a code of ethics to commit to strengthening the sector, to improve the quality and impact of their services and delivery, and contribute to a vibrant and dynamic society. Their code of ethics can be found at www.sangoco.org.za/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=8&Itemid=30.
- Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations. The Independent Sector’s Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations is intended as a model for use by nonprofit organizations and foundations nationwide. It can be found at www.independentsector.org/members/code_main.html.
Codes of Conduct Governing Nonprofit Organizations – Central and Eastern Europe
- Principles of the Charter adopted at the II National Forum for Non-governmental Initiatives (Poland). These principles were adopted during a workshop of the FIP National Forum in 1996, and have served as a basis for further self-regulatory efforts by that association. [available from ICNL]
- European Foundation Centre Principles of Good Practice. Through September 15, 2006, the European Foundation Center is receiving comments on a new draft of their Principles of Good Practice. The Principles represent a shared vision of good practices and constitute a general recommendation to reinforce good practice, openness and transparency in the European foundation community. A copy of the draft can be found at www.efc.be/agenda/event.asp?EventID=3862.
Codes of Conduct Governing Nonprofit Organizations – Fundraising Practices and Financial Accountability
- Philanthropic Advisory Service. The U.S. Council of Better Business Bureaus promulgates standards that emphasize financial accountability and fundraising practices, and rates charities according to the standards. These standards can be found at www.give.org.
- The Association of Fundraising Professionals covers three main topics: 1) Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice; 2) The Accountable Nonprofit Organization, which includes a statement of principles; and 3) Ethics Enforcement: Handling and Preventing Unethical Behavior. Information on all three topics can be found at www.nsfre.org/ethics/guidelines_code_standards
- Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, Ethical Fundraising & Financial Accountability Code. This code addresses donors’ rights, fundraising practices, and financial accountability measures for subscribing organizations. It can be found at www.imaginecanada.ca/page.asp?ethical_fundraising_code_one.
- Standards of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability promulgates standards for religious organizations. These standards can be found at www.ecfa.org/pdf/ECFA-StandardsBestPractices.pdf.
- Code of Ethics and Professional Practices. This brief code by the Alberta Association of Fundraising Executives can be found at the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions Library. http://ethics.iit.edu/codes/.
- ICFO International Standards. These standards by the International Council of Fundraising Organizations address good governance and management principles for fundraising organizations. They can be found at www.icfo.de/standards.htm .
- La Charte de deontologie. This code of professional conduct for foundations and associations in France establishes a committee of organizations that regulates violations of the charter constituting offenses leading to sanctions, and that permits or disallows use of a “label” that organizations in compliance may imprint upon their fundraising literature. For more information, visit www.comitecharte.org/.
Codes of Ethics – Development Organizations
- Code of Conduct for Non-Government Development Organisations. This code was adopted by the Australian Council for Overseas Aid in 1996. The Code sets out standards on how organizations are managed, how they communicate with the public, and how they spend the funds they raise. It can be found at www.acfid.asn.au/code/code.htm
- Code of Ethics of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. This code governs the activities of members of the CCIC, a membership organization devoted to enhancing the effectiveness of its members engaged in international cooperation efforts. The code is accompanied by a very helpful guidance document that explains the rationale behind each provision of the code. The code can be found at www.web.ca/acgc/about/CCIC_Code_of_Ethics.pdf .
- PVO Standards. Interaction, a coalition of 150 not-for-profit organizations worldwide, primarily devoted to humanitarian assistance efforts, requires members to agree to this code. It can be found at www.interaction.org/pvostandards/index.html.
Codes of Ethics – Government regulated
- The Republic of Kenya, The Non-Governmental Organizations Co-ordination Act, 1990: The Act establishes a Kenya Council of Voluntary Agencies, which serves as “a collective forum of all the voluntary agencies registered” under the Act. The Act mandates that the Council develop a code of conduct and regulations to facilitate self-regulation among NGOs, and sets forth procedures for adoption of a code. The first one hundred NGOs to register under the act constituted the council competent to develop and adopt the code. The law can be found on the ICNL Online Library under Kenya Key Laws: http://184.108.40.206/dlib/browse/browseCountry_step3.php?range=HK&country=ke&resourceTypeID=1
- Republic of the Gambia, Non-Governmental Organisation Decree No. 81, 1996. This law mandates NGO compliance with a code of conduct, which appears as Schedule II to the law. See Art. 13.
Codes of Ethics – Business and Government
- The Principles for Responsible Investment: The United Nations recently adopted a code of conduct for businesses to promote socially responsible investing. The Principles offer volunteer guidelines for investors so that they are able to avoid investing in companies with poor records on pollution, labor relations, or corporate governance. The Principles can be found at www.unpri.org.
- OECD Principles of Corporate Governance. A recent example of a code relating to corporate affairs. It is available at the OECD’s website, www.oecd.org or www.oecd.org/dataoecd/32/18/31557724.pdf
- Other examples of codes pertaining to government and businesses can be found at the website library maintained by the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, at the Illinois Institute of Technology, http://ethics.iit.edu/codes.