From Guidelines & Principles
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Nonprofit organizations play an important societal role in serving as the vehicles by which philanthropy occurs. Nonprofits act as the intermediaries between donors and beneficiaries and have ethical obligations to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions. Nonprofit fundraising should be conducted according to the highest ethical standards with regard to solicitation, acceptance, recording, reporting and use of funds. Nonprofits should adopt clear policies for fundraising activities to ensure responsible use of funds for designated purposes and open, transparent communication with donors and other constituents.

A nonprofit should only seek funds that it needs to reasonably work toward achieving its mission over the foreseeable future and that will not bring about adverse conditions for constituents.

A nonprofit should use funds according to donor intent and comply with specific conditions for donations.

Nonprofits should not share or trade donor names with others unless given permission by the donor.

Infrastructure Checklist


Yes No In Progress Not Applicable Not Sure
Compliance with fundraising rules & regulations (990) US
Provide appropriate acknowledgement/receipts to donors (Internal Revenue Code §170(f) (17); 990) US
Professional commercial fundraisers must register with the Iowa attorney general and obtain a registration permit. May be required to update registration quarterly. (Iowa Code §13C.2) IA
Charitable nonprofits fundraising in Iowa must be prepared to provide financial disclosure information to any person requesting it. (Iowa Code §13C) IA
Obtain liquor license (Neb. Rev. Stat. §53-138.03; Iowa Code §123.30(3) (a)) NE, IA
Obtain gaming license to conduct bingo, a lottery by the sale of pickle cards, a lottery with gross proceeds in excess of $1,000, or a raffle with gross proceeds in excess of $5,000. (Neb. Rev. Stat. §9-232.01(1) (2); Neb. Rev. Stat. §9-424(1)) NE
Obtain license for games of skill and chance, bingo operations, raffles, and social gambling activities from the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals, Social and Charitable Gambling Unit IA

Strongly Recommended

Yes No In Progress Not Applicable Not Sure
Adherence to Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Code of Ethics
Do not call/fax/email policy
Do not pay fundraisers based on percentage of funds raised or commissions
Gift acceptance, management & recognition policy (including in-kind donations, fair market value & disposal of assets, donor confidentiality policy)
Grants management system (if the organization has grants)—copies of every proposal, all grants communication, database information, reporting requirements, evaluation & calendar
Keep track of volunteer hours when conducting gaming
Prompt acknowledgment & thank you letters to donors
Uphold the public trust


Yes No In Progress Not Applicable Not Sure
Case statement
Donor database (contributions/restrictions)
Fund development plan
Fundraising budget & system to track expenditures
Individual donor requirements (if the organization has individual donors)
Policy for donor stewardship
Written contracts with fundraising consultants

Practices Assessment

Ethics, Responsibilities & Policies

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning fundraising practices. US, NE, IA
We have secured the appropriate liquor and gaming licenses from the state (if applicable). NE, IA
We register our professional commercial fundraisers with the Iowa Attorney General, obtain a permit and update it as required. IA
We are prepared to provide financial disclosure information to any person requesting it, for all fundraising done in Iowa. IA
Our board and Executive Director are familiar with the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, and ensure that all fundraising professionals acting on behalf of the organization adhere to these.
We comply with all Do-Not-Contact list laws.
We pursue and accept only the funds that are in alignment with our mission; that will not bring about adverse conditions for our constituents; and that we need to reasonably work toward achieving the mission over the foreseeable future.
The board assumes overall responsibility for raising sufficient funds to meet our budgeted objectives. This includes 100% of board members financially supporting the organization in accordance with a written board giving policy, and board members raising funds from external sources.
We have a board-approved fund development plan that strives to raise funds efficiently so that a significant percentage of funding can be applied to programs/services.
We work towards diversifying our funding sources as much as possible in an effort to strengthen the organization’s sustainability and to lessen the impact of a potential loss of a significant amount of funding from any one source.
Fundraising communications include clear, accurate, honest information about the organization, its activities and the intended use of funds.
Compensation for fundraising personnel and consultants is not based on a percentage of funds or on other commission based formulas.
We have written contracts with fundraising consultants that cover compensation; responsibilities; acknowledgment of applicable fundraising laws, disclosure requirements and proper fund handling; and appropriate fundraising behavior and techniques.
We are familiar with the legal distinctions between staff, consultants, and contract employees, and ensure that we have the ability to adequately manage and supervise fundraising activity conducted by contractual providers.
We have a grants management system (if applicable) in place to enhance efficiency and transparency, and to ensure proper and timely reporting.
We have a fundraising budget and system to track expenditures.

Accountability to Donors

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We provide appropriate acknowledgement and receipts to donors, in accordance with IRS code. US
We clearly and appropriately categorize our donated funds as unrestricted, temporarily restricted or permanently restricted in our financial statements and communications in accordance with the donor or grantor wishes/stipulations. US
We conduct our fundraising activities in a manner that upholds the public trust in stewardship of contributed funds.
We use funds according to donor intent and comply with specific conditions for donations.
We publicly recognize charitable contributions as appropriate and maintain donor confidentiality as requested. We never trade or share donor names with others unless given express permission by the donor.
We have policies in place regarding the receipt, disposal and management of charitable gifts and grants.
We regularly communicate with donors about our activities and make information available through multiple outlets.

Walking the Talk

  • Develop an annual Fund Development Plan that addresses all programs, projects, and services.
  • Be familiar with industry standards for ethical fund raising and ensure that your employees, volunteers, and consultants are both aware of and compliant with these principles.
  • Establish a Fund Advancement Committee to develop key strategies and cultivate needed resources.
  • In Iowa, visit the Attorney General’s web site and review the rules and regulations for charitable solicitation and licensure of fundraising professionals. There is no required registration of fundraisers in Nebraska, but gaming laws apply.
  • Assure that all board members are clear on expectations for their individual financial support as well as the board’s role in supporting fund advancement strategies through personal solicitations and relationship building.
  • Make sure that your strategic plan addresses a broad range of resources needed to accomplish each goal/task, including financial resources, facility needs, and staff skills and training.
  • Ensure that facilities, equipment, and technology needs are considered in developing new programs and services. Consider conducting a technology audit. Plan appropriately for staff expansion to ensure adequate space, furniture, phone lines, etc. are available.
  • When seeking new/expanded funding sources, include all related costs and research any limitations or exclusions (i.e., some funders limit expenditures for equipment or technology expenses).
  • Stay abreast of funding trends through regular reading and ongoing training. Subscribe to The Chronicle of Philanthropy and online journals like Philanthropy News Network Online or The Fundraising Well.