Ethics of legacy fundraising ethics during emergencies

The Coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the world has raised some disquiet that it would be unethical to ask people at risk of dying form Covid-19 to make a bequest to a charity.

To explore this issue, Rogare has begun a project that will identify the ethical issues facing legacy fundraising in all emergencies that are likely to result in severe loss of life, such as a pandemic or epidemic (even a man-made one such as the opioid crisis), war, or societal disruption (such as might be the result of economic depression or natural disaster).

This project will:

  1. Identify potential ethical challenges/issues/dilemmas relating to legacy fundraising during emergencies generally and the current pandemic specifically.

  2. Differentiate these from the usual ethical challenges/issues/dilemmas faced by legacy fundraisers – i.e. what makes this ethical issue relevant to the current situation or any other emergency?

  3. Analyse these ethical dilemmas through the lens of existing theories of fundraising ethics to recommend possible resolutions.

Where some arguments have been made that legacy fundraising during emergencies/Covid-19 pandemic is unethical per se – which might include those the project team, itself, identifies – we'll aim to present the types of counter-arguments that might fall out of analysing these issues through the lens of ethical theory.

We’re fast tracking this project and aim to publish our thoughts by the start of May 2020. 

Legacy fundraising ethics project group

Claire Routley.jpeg

Claire Routley

Project leader

Legacy Fundraising (UK)

  • Heather Hill, LAPA Fundraising (USA)

  • Cherian Koshy, Des Moines Performing Arts (USA)

  • Lucy Lowthian, Sue Ryder (UK)

  • Meredith Niles, Marie Curie Cancer Care (UK)

  • Ligia Peña, Greenpeace International (Canada)

  • Christine Reidy, Your Catholic Legacy (UK)

  • Michael Rosen, ML Innovations (USA)

  • Andrew Watt, Accordant Philanthropy (UK)

  • Roewen Wishart, XPonential Fundraising (Australia)

Our Associate Members

Rogare is supported in its work by a number of Associate Members – partners to the fundraising sector that share our critical fundraising ethos. Our Associate Members are: