CEO Corner: Ethics and Philanthropy
Alice Ayres, MBA
In this season of reflection, I have been thinking a lot about the question of ethics and morals in health care philanthropy as well as about the science of gratitude. It is an immeasurable gift to create an environment that makes space for people to express their gratitude. Studies show health care organizations that focus on building a culture of encouraging and recognizing gratitude are not only delivering better patient outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction, but also reducing clinician burn-out and increasing job satisfaction and engagement. (For more on this, see Transforming Health Care Philanthropy.)
The work of health care philanthropy is deeply personal and emotional. It requires us to set standards for ourselves and our partners (physicians, nurses and health care administrators among many) to ensure we all put our focus on the physical and psychological wellness of our donors and ethically manage their gifts toward impact.
There are, of course, legal guidelines – detailed in AHP’s Fundraising Under HIPAA guide – that govern how we gather information, how we engage with donors and how we honor donors’ intentions with their gifts. This is the baseline that we follow in the work of health care philanthropy.
However, our profession sets higher standards that go much further to ensure we always act with the donor’s intentions at the center. We’ve developed a Donor’s Bill of Rights and we convene groups like the “Summit on the Ethics of Grateful Patient Fundraising” to identify ethical concerns and propose guidelines for all of us to follow, even in the gray areas.
We also have professional credentials and designations like the CFRE and the FAHP designed to reinforce those standards and to recognize those who lead the way in all aspects of our profession.
We should all be proud to be in a profession that not only works to meet all of our legal and ethical standards, but strives to exceed them, ensuring that in all ways we honor the intention of our donors and their incredible generosity.