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.

Assessment Items

Accountability to Donors

Legal Essential Recommended
We provide appropriate acknowledgement and receipts to donors, in accordance with IRS code. [Legal US] X
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. X
We use funds according to donor intent and comply with specific conditions for donations. X
We have policies in place regarding the receipt, disposal, and management of charitable gifts and grants. X
We regularly communicate with donors about our activities and make information available through multiple outlets. X
We have guidelines for use of donated funds for programs that are subsequently discontinued. These guidelines include a statement that the donor will be informed that such redirections may occur as is practical upon acceptance of the bequest/gift. X

Ethics, Responsibilities & Policies

Legal Essential Recommended
We register our professional commercial fundraisers with the Iowa Attorney General, obtain a permit and update it as required. [Legal IA] X
We comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning fundraising practices. [Legal US, NE, IA] X
We have secured the appropriate liquor and gaming licenses from the state (if applicable). [Legal US, NE, IA] X
We are prepared to provide financial disclosure information to any person requesting it, for all fundraising done in Iowa. [Legal IA] X
We comply with all Do-Not-Contact list laws. [Legal US] X
We only pursue and accept funds that align with our mission, are needed to work towards our mission over the foreseeable future, and that will not bring about adverse conditions for our constituents. X
Fundraising communications include clear, accurate, honest information about the organization, its activities, and the intended use of funds. X
We have a fundraising budget and system to track expenditures. X
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. X
We have written contracts with fundraising consultants that cover compensation, responsibilities, appropriate fundraising techniques, acknowledgment of applicable fundraising laws, disclosure requirements, and proper fund handling. X
We have a grants management system in place to enhance efficiency and transparency, and to ensure proper and timely reporting (if applicable). X
Compensation for fundraising personnel and consultants is not based on a percentage of funds or on other commission-based formulas. X
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. X
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. X


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
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

Best Practices

Accountability to Donors

  • Develop an annual Fund Development Plan that addresses all programs, projects, and services.
  • Establish a Fund Advancement Committee to develop key strategies and cultivate needed resources.
  • 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).

Ethics, Responsibilities & Policies

  • Be familiar with industry standards for ethical fundraising ( and ensure that your employees, volunteers, and consultants are both aware of and compliant with these principles.
  • 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.