Principle 2

A charitable organization should formally adopt a written code of ethics with which all of its directors or trustees, staff, and volunteers are familiar and to which they adhere.

Adherence to the law provides a minimum standard for an organization’s behavior. Each organization should also create or adopt a written code of ethics that outlines the values that the organization embraces, and the practices and behaviors its staff, board, and volunteers are expected to follow, such as the confidentiality and respect that should be accorded to clients, consumers, donors, volunteers, and board and staff members. The code of ethics should be accompanied by specific policies and procedures that describe how it will be put into practice and how violations will be addressed.

Both the board and the staff should be engaged in developing and implementing a code of ethics that fits the needs and character of the individual organization. The board should approve the final document. New board members, employees, and volunteers should receive a full orientation to the code and all related policies, including processes for addressing violations. Adherence to the code should be incorporated into the ongoing work of all staff and volunteers of the organization. Organizations should consider requiring every board member, employee, and volunteer to review and sign a copy of the code when they join the organization and to reaffirm their commitment by signing the code again on an annual or other regular basis.