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Ethical Online and Donor Practices

Updated 11/10/04

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VolResource doesn't major in fundraising issues, but thought it useful to have a ready reference on donor and online ethics.


Fundraising on the net - online sources of fundraising advice, news, services.

ePhilanthropy Code of Ethical Online Philanthropic Practices

An American initiative to increase the trust and hence take-up of online donation facilities has got going. "ePhilanthropy Foundation exists to foster the effective and safe use of the internet for philanthropic purposes." This is their draft code of practice, as at Jan 2001.

Ethical Online Practices and Practitioners will:


1.          Clearly and specifically display and describe the organization's identity on the organization's Web site;

2.          Employ practices on the Web site that exhibit integrity, honesty, truthfulness and seeks to safeguard the public trust; 


1.          Seek to inspire trust in every online transaction;

2.          Prominently display the opportunity to have their names removed from lists that are sold to, rented to, or exchanged with other organizations;

3.          Conduct online transactions through a system that employs high-level, security technology, to protect the donor's personal information;

4.          Provide either an 'opt in' or 'opt out' mechanism to prevent unsolicited communications or solicitations by organizations that obtain email addresses directly from the donor, and require the "opt in" mechanism before the donor's email address may be sold, transferred or otherwise distributed to a third party for communication, advertising or promotion purposes;

5.          Protect the interests and privacy of individuals interacting with their website.


1.          Disclose the identity of the organization or provider processing an online transaction;

2.          Guarantee that the name, logo and likeness of all parties to an online transaction belong to the party and will not be used without express permission;

3.          Maintain all appropriate governmental and regulatory designations or certifications.


1.          Provide protection to hold the donor harmless of any problem arising from a transaction conducted through the organization's website;

2.          Promptly respond to all customer complaints and to employ best efforts to fairly resolve all legitimate complaints in a timely fashion.


1.          Insure contributions are used to support the activities of the organization to which it was donated.

2.          Insure that legal control of contributions or proceeds from online transactions are transferred directly to the charity or expedited in the fastest possible way.

3.          Companies providing online services with charities will provide clear and full communication with the charity on all aspects of donor transactions including the accurate and timely transmission of data related to online transactions.

4.          Stay informed regarding the best methods to insure the ethical, secure and private nature of online ephilanthropy transactions;

5.          Adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of all applicable laws and regulations, including but not limited to charity solicitation and tax laws;

6.          Insure that all services, recognition and other transactions promised on a Web site, in consideration of gift or transaction, will be fulfilled in a timely basis;

7.          Disclose to the donor the nature of the relationship between the organization processing the gift or transaction and the charity intended to benefit from the gift.

Distributed by the ePhilanthropy Foundation.Org

655 15th Street, NW
G Street Lobby, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20005

Approved:  November 12, 2000

ePhilanthropyFoundation.Org © 2000


Institute of Fundraising

(was ICFM)


When you consider making a gift to charity, we undertake that:

©ICFM, Published March 2001. See Institute of Fundraising for updated material.


Donor Bill of Rights

AFP (an American Philanthropy organisation) are updating their 1993 version for the internet age, Mar 01. They believe the document should comprise, at a minimum, the following donor rights:

--To be clearly and immediately informed of the organization's name, identity, nonprofit or for-profit status, its mission, and purpose when first accessing the organization's web site.

--To have easy and clear access to alternative a contact information other than through the website or email.

--To be assured that all third party logos, trademarks, trustmarks and other identifying, sponsoring, and/or endorsing symbols displayed on the website are accurate, justified, up-to-date and clearly explained.

--To be informed of whether or not a contribution entitles the donor to a tax deduction, and of all limits on such deduction based on applicable laws.

--To be assured that all online transactions and contributions occur through a safe, private, and secure system which protects the donor's personal information.

--To be clearly informed if a contribution goes directly to the intended charity, or is held by or transferred through a third party.

--To have easy and clear access to an organization's privacy policy posted on its website and be clearly and unambiguously informed about what information an organization is gathering about the donor and how that information will be used.

--To be clearly informed of opportunities to "opt-out" of data lists that are sold, shared, rented or transferred to other organizations.

--To not receive unsolicited communications or solicitations unless the donor has "opted-in" to receive such materials."