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How moral are you as a fundraiser? Take the survey

How moral are you as a fundraiser? Take the survey

All this talk about in fundraising over the past few years has really wound me up. Is my practice ethical? Can I justify the decisions I make in work? Am I a moral fundraiser? I need your help to answer these questions…

If the virtues are neither passions nor facilities, all that remains is that they should be states of character.
– Aristotle

Now – I’m on a quest that began in 2015. That year, I had the pleasure of attending the IoF Convention and worked alongside Jen Shang at Plymouth’s Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy Charity Lab. The research conducted during the conference asked delegates to take a survey designed to test fundraisers’ sense of professional self-worth.

Results from the study revealed that fundraisers felt worse than non-fundraisers after they were asked to make identical sets of ethical decisions. They were published in  2015 in  The effect of ethical decision making on fundraisers’ sense of moral identity by J. Shang, J. and S. Kong.

However, one thing protected fundraisers from these feelings: pride in their identity as a fundraiser.

Proud to be a fundraiser badge

Who gets to wear the Proud to be a Fundraiser badge?

These results sparked something in me. As a fundraiser, I couldn’t believe that so many of my peers were affected so negatively by making ethical decisions; decisions that are regularly faced as part of our work. I felt that I had to do something about this. In my eyes, fundraisers are some of the most virtuous people I know. They have strong morals. They spend their days making sure others benefit from services and programmes provided through incredible charities and non-profits.

The greatest virtues are those which are most useful to other persons.
– Aristotle

If fundraisers are negatively affected by making the ethical decisions that are required of us in our daily work, something must be done to counter this and give us confidence and strength.

And so, I began my quest to pursue a PhD in philanthropic psychology at the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University. For the past three years, I have been a full-time fundraising manager of an NHS Hospital Charity by day, and a budding researcher into morality and fundraisers by night. I have read hundreds of articles, written thousands of words, and interviewed some incredible professionals.

It turns out, there are certain characteristics and circumstances that help people make moral decisions. Without giving too much away, my research looks at the relationships between these factors specifically within fundraisers.

But my quest will only be successful with your help. Would you be willing to give some of your time to help fundraisers?

If the answer is yes, please follow this link to take a 25-minute survey.

The survey must be taken from a desktop or laptop (the survey won’t work on a mobile device), and must be completed in one sitting. I know this is a busy time for us, but results will be used in trainings and conferences to give us courage in our difficult decision-making moments.

Your participation in the study will be completely anonymous, you have the opportunity to receive your individual scores, and to appreciate your time and effort you will have the option to enter a raffle for an iPad mini or £100 gift voucher. The closing date for completing the survey is 22 December 2017.

Courage is the first virtue that makes all other virtues possible.
– Aristotle

Thank you for all you already give. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your virtuous character.


Jessica Burgess

Jessica Burgess

Jessica Burgess is a driven fundraiser, with experience in both the US and UK. Currently the Fundraising Manager for the BSUH NHS Charity, Jessica is responsible for managing fundraising across 4 hospitals in Brighton, Hove and Mid Sussex. She enjoys creating and implementing fundraising strategies and nurturing donor relationships. The focus of her work is to provide opportunities for people to connect with charities in a meaningful and life-changing way. Additionally, Jessica is enrolled as a part-time PhD student with the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy. Working alongside professional fundraising organisations and associations, the findings from Jessica's work will be used to support fundraisers personally and professionally. The aim is to publish research findings in early 2019. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys cycling, knitting, dancing, and playing piano to relax.

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