Principle 32

A charitable organization should not compensate internal or external fundraisers based on a commission or a percentage of the amount raised.

Compensation for fundraising activities should reflect the skill, effort, and time expended by the individual or firm on behalf of the charitable organization. Many professional associations of fundraisers prohibit their members from accepting payment for fundraising activities based on a percentage of the amount of charitable income raised or expected to be raised. Basing compensation on a percentage of the money raised can encourage fundraisers to put their own interests ahead of those of the organization or the donor and may lead to inappropriate techniques that jeopardize the organization’s values and reputation and the donor’s trust in the organization. Percentage-based compensation may also lead to payments that could be regarded by legal authorities or perceived by the public as “excessive compensation” compared to the actual work conducted. Percentage-based compensation may also be skewed by unexpected or unsolicited gifts received by the charitable organization through no effort of the fundraiser. A similar logic applies to employees. Some charitable organizations choose to provide bonuses to employees for exceptional work in fundraising, administrative, or program activities. If so, the criteria for such bonuses should be clearly based on the quality of the work performed, rather than on a percentage of the funds raised.

Some online and mobile fundraising platforms and credit card providers charge charitable organizations transaction fees for processing donations that is often based on a percentage of the donation or transaction, but these fees should not be viewed or treated as fundraising compensation. Charitable organizations should ensure that the fees are reasonable and comparable to those charged similar organizations and businesses, whether they are applied to contributions or payments for services.