Paper Example on Ethical Leadership Working with Older Donors

Paper Type:  Report
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1793 Words
Date:  2022-07-25


The ability to raise funds is often considered to be a vital skill for any leader. Whether in non-profit organizations or in business entities, the leader with expertise in mobilizing funds through donations is usually viewed in high regard. In as much as the intentions for raising funds are often noble, the means to this end may sometimes be questionable. Available evidence shows that the practice can sometimes be excessive and intrusive. The society classifies older adults as a vulnerable population and for many reasons. To mention one, they are usually dependent on others to help them move around and perform basic duties. This together with other psychological factors predisposes the older population of manipulation and abuse (Redmond, 2016).

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The current views on financial abuse and exploitation of older people focus mainly on family members and professional caretakers. Literature from the United States and The United Kingdom reveal that older adults are at risk of new forms of abuse due to the emergence of online and mobile banking. The evidence points to a linkage between the other forms of financial abuse and charitable fundraisers who employ techniques such as cold calls or direct mailing (Redmond, 2016).

Ethical leadership is not only important in the non-profit sector but also in other areas of profitable business. For instance, honesty is touted as the most important virtue in leadership. There is a connection between the honesty of a fundraiser and the gaining of public trust. The main agenda of the fundraising activities is to help a vulnerable section of the population (Redmond, 2016). Since the older population is considered a vulnerable population, it would be unethical to exploit them in order to benefit another category of vulnerable persons. This calls for high levels of integrity among fundraisers.

In many instances, good fundraisers may occasionally take advantage of the vulnerability of the older donors and exploit them when asking for donations. Many consider this to be unfair and unethical. However, others hold the view that the end justifies the means. Citing specific examples, this paper discusses the issues of ethical leadership when seeking donations and argues that it is unethical to take advantage of the older donors.

The Problem

The concept of fundraising for both charitable and religious organizations has been around for some time. The professional aspect of raising funds for charity started in the 1900s when Charles Sumner and Frank Pierce raised money for the building of YMCA in Washington DC. During the same period, Bishop William of Harvard University also engaged alumni of the institution in a donation campaign to raise the allowances of professors. The success of the activity birthed the awareness that fundraising could beyond donations for buildings (Schaupp, 2014).

The demand for fundraising increased during the period between the 1st and the 2nd World Wars. Generally, the American population was charitable; however, their attitudes towards the fundraisers were somewhat sceptical. This was primarily because there were no clear standards or guidelines to guide the conduct of professional fundraisers (Schaupp, 2014).

Ultimately in the 1960s, the National Society of Fund Raisers (NSFR) was established with the mandate to regulate the fundraising industry. They conducted research and disseminated information to professional fundraisers. Subsequently, new methods of fundraising emerged such as door to door and reaching to groups in hitherto overlooked socioeconomic status. In the 1990s, there was a surge in professional training for fundraisers and advanced method of seeking donations (Schaupp, 2014).

Today, the practice of most fundraisers hinge on accepted research and they are vital to the success of many a nonprofit organization. In many instances, donors are more than willing to donate their resources for a noble course. However, surveys show that the propensity to donate depends on the adherence to sound ethical conditions. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the professional fundraisers to create the necessary ethical conditions (Schaupp, 2014).

Despite the emergence of professional bodies that regulate the conduct of fundraisers, donations among the older people remain largely uncontrolled. The status of religious and charitable donations among the older population is not clear. The demise of one Olive Cooke in 2015 shows that fundraising among the elderly adults can be invasive and extreme. Evidence suggests that donation related controversy triggered the suicidal death. The protection of this special group of donors, therefore, requires significant monitoring and establishment of accountability measures (Redmond, 2016).

The events surrounding the demise of Olive Cooke paints a grim picture of charities. The circumstances suggest that some fundraisers engage in the selling of names of potential donors. This routine creates an opportunity for the growth of an abusive relationship. Furthermore, many clergies conduct operations with a certain level of unaccountability. The association between the clerics and the elderly congregation, who often raise funds for church activities creates the potential for abuse. There is limited evidence of charitable donations that allow for regulation and independent monitoring of their activities (Redmond, 2016).

Ethical conduct is of great importance in fundraising for nonprofits. First and foremost, surveys show that the propensity to donate among the population depends on trust. Most funds that nonprofit organizations raise benefit the general public or a specific group depending on the vision and mission of the nonprofit. Many donors easily give money to entities that they trust. In order to earn trust, the organizations must use the funds that they receive appropriate and exhibit a commitment to ethical behavior (Roddy, 2016).

Also, the establishment of a charity organization or fundraiser as trustworthy helps to foster better relationships between the entity and the donors. Potential donors are inclined to support the mission devoid of any skepticism regarding how the money will be spent. Accordingly, upholding ethical standards when raising funds helps in retaining existing donors as well as attracting new ones (Roddy, 2016).

Proponents of "the end justify the means" view maintain that charities are meant for the good of the society, therefore, some misdeeds that arise in the process of raising funds can be ignored. Some have argued that the elderly donors have lived there lives to the maximum and therefore must endeavor to help others. The arguments seem sound from the outside however a deeper evaluation reveals serious flaws. First and foremost, it is the right of any individual the elderly included to choose where and how much to donate. Manipulation of the elderly donors amounts to gross violation of fundamental rights and freedoms. It is therefore not only unethical but also illegal. From a moral standpoint, nonprofits should conduct ethical funds drives from the outset. Many nonprofits are driven by values and these values should be mirrored in the strategies they use for fundraising (Roddy, 2016).

Moving on, the exploitation of the older donors destroys the reputation of charitable organizations and other non-profits. Evidence shows that organizations that have scandals when raising funds find it ten times tougher to achieve their goals. On the contrary, upholding ethical principles is found to enhance reputation and establish the trustworthiness of the organization. Importantly, ethical behavior among fundraisers helps to save money. Many unethical fundraisers opt to give gifts and appeal letters to donors in order to retain them. However, in practice, it is easier to retain donors through ethical fundraising practice (Roddy, 2016).


As highlighted earlier, many reported cases of financial abuse against the older people are perpetrated by close family or carers. Mostly, the perpetrators take advantage of the vulnerability of the elderly to defraud them. There is a similarity between the financial abuse by carers and family and that committed by professional fundraisers. For instance, there has been a notable increase in the risk of financial abuse of the elderly suffering from dementia. Samsi, Manthorpe, and Chandaria (2014) found that elderly people with dementia had problems managing their money. In the survey, many respondents reported multiple cases of financial abuse.

The findings of the survey demonstrate the vulnerability of the elderly and why they are an easy target. Cases of dementia are common among the senior citizens and without preventive measure to ensure the safeguarding of their interest, they continue to be at risk of financial abuse. The exposure to abuse of the elderly from carers and financial custodians is similar to that which they face against fundraisers. This evidence underscores the need for stringent ethical guidelines to help mitigate the negative impact against the older population (Samsi, Manthorpe, & Chandaria, 2014).

In the United States, the number of older adults has been on the rise. Available data shows that elders approximately 2.9 billion dollars through financial exploitation in 2015. The impact of financial exploitation of older people whether by family members, carers or fundraisers often goes beyond economic loss. The adults are also susceptible to anxiety and other emotional discomforts. Such factors undermine the health of the seniors and predispose them to premature death. The unethical nature of the conduct can easily be seen from the consequences that exploitation brings.

There have been several calls by commentators within the spheres of charity for change in approach with regards to fundraising among the older people. For instance, the CEO for Fundraising Standards Board opined that it is necessary to have a strong regulatory framework for preventing potential exploitation of the elderly. He admitted that the exploitation of the elderly by fundraiser has not been clearly defined as a crime or considered as a form of financial abuse. However, its existence has been acknowledged. Many fundraisers continue to write to the elderly asking for funds even if they request to be removed from the mailing list. The practice is tantamount to an invasion of privacy. Moreover, evidence shows that the fundraisers share information with other organizations so that if they remove one from their mailing list, another fundraiser sends the emails. Such practices undermine the main objective of most nonprofits which is the improvement of lives (Redmont, 2016).

It is important to evaluate the motivation of fundraisers especially those who deal with older donors. Mostly, the fundraisers go to the extent of purchasing names and addresses of individuals who are donors in other organizations. A possible explanation is that the fundraisers don't value the charity objectives of the donor but rather they target them because they have a track record of giving donations. Evidently, the possible motivation is the underlying potential to secure funds. This makes it easier for the relationship between the fundraisers and the donors to be exploitative. In as much as the fundraisers are duty bound to attract funds to their organizations, focusing solely on their interests with disregard for the wishes of the donors especially the elderly creates ethical problems (Redmont, 2016).

Speaking of ethical problems, there are several dilemmas that fundraisers and donors face. The knowledge of the existence of these dilemmas is a vital step towards avoiding unethical conduct. Whenever the dilemmas occur, the decisions and choices to be made are not straightforward (Burchill, 2015)....

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Paper Example on Ethical Leadership Working with Older Donors. (2022, Jul 25). Retrieved from

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