2015 Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice Released

By on Thursday, February 26, 2015

Independent Sector today announced the release of the 2015 edition of the Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice, a set of 33 principles broadly accepted by many nonprofit and philanthropic organizations as a guide for charities’ and foundations’ self-governance.

The 2015 edition of the Principles contains legal background and principles on a broad range of topics including legal compliance, effective governance, financial oversight, and responsible fundraising. They provide more flexibility on overhead calculations, which have vexed many nonprofits as they have tried to demonstrate efficiency and gutted needed staffing and support.

This is the first time the principles have been updated since 2007. Major changes took into account:

  • How technology affects giving in a digital world and risk related to data security
  • New charitable business and social change models, such as donor-advised funds and social impact investing, and their opportunities and pitfalls
  • The need to balance organizational transparency and individual privacy
  • The evolving debate on overhead costs.

There is significant guidance on fundraising, as online fundraising (and fraud) become more common. The authors advise charities to include contact information on online fundraising solicitations, so donors can confirm that a request is legitimate. Those who contract for outside fundraising services are also advised to have written contracts detailing fees, how donor information is protected, and fraud protection policies.

While the guidelines help the sector demonstrate its commitment to self-regulation, criticism and concerns remain, given the volume of scandals in recent years and issues with nonprofit management that continue to crop up.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that “Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is still pressing for investigations of nonprofits, including charity hospitals and the American Red Cross. Last year, then-Rep. Dave Camp, who was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sought caps on executive pay at nonprofits.” Calls for further regulation of nonprofit organizations may continue.

A standard edition and an extensive legal reference edition of the Principles are available for sale at, as well as access to an online Resource Center, a self-assessment tool for charitable leaders and board members, a database of governance resources, and much more. Both print and digital copies are available online for purchase and on Amazon. Digital resources are available for pre-order delivering March 1.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media and work-family balance. She also reviews books on her blog. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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