Virtue ethics

The virtuous fundraiser

What are the personal and professional virtues a fundraiser ought to have to act ethically in her role? Honest? Trustworthy? Respectful? What about caring? Or judicial? Or competent?

Most fundraising ethics considers what’s right according to whether it has good outcomes (consequentialism) or is considered to be a moral way of acting (deontology). This is what our initial white paper that established Rights Balancing Fundraising Ethics does.

Consquentialism and deontology are two of the three main branches of normative ethics. The third is virtue ethics.

The next big step in our development of a theory of fundraising ethics is to craft a fully-fledged concept of ethical fundraising based on virtue ethics, and we aim to publish a white paper during 2021, which will complement our original paper on Rights Balancing Fundraising Ethics. Until then you can download Ian MacQuillin's presentation on virtue ethics in fundraising to the 2019 Institute of Fundraising National Convention.

The caring fundraiser – Feminist Care Ethics and fundraising

A further contribution to normative fundraising ethics could be derived from Feminist Care Ethics, which is a branch of virtue ethics that attempts to provide an alternative perspective to the traditional (‘masculine’) perspectives of duty and justice that are emphasized by both consequentialism and deontology.

Our early work on Care Ethics suggests that the notion of a ‘caring fundraiser’ will bring further nuance to what will become a substantial and sophisticated professional ethics for fundraising. Our task is to produce a paper outlining these ideas that will complement the original white paper and the paper on virtue ethics. How care ethics can help us to identify the role-differentiated virtues of an ethical fundraisers is covered in Ian MacQuillin's presentation on virtue ethics in fundraising to the 2019 Institute of Fundraising National Convention, which you can download here.

There will also be some cross-fertilization with our project on gender issues in fundraising.

  • Download the the presentation to the Institute of Fundraising National Convention 2019 on virtue ethics in fundraising.