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What Exactly Are Ethics?

What exactly are ethics? It seems to be coming up more and more during conversations at the regional and national level. There are two current trains of thought on ethics. There are those who believe ethics are tied to legality, while others believe it is simply about morals or what the group has decided is ethical. By definition, ethics are a set of moral issues or aspects, but when talking about the GPA, ethics are the principles of conduct governing our group, in other words, a guiding philosophy for the organization.


Our Code of Ethics has existed, in one form or another, since 1998. Since that time, it has undergone a few cosmetic changes, but at its heart, it has always remained the same. Both the GPA and its Code of Ethics were created to advance grantsmanship as a profession – a way to legitimize what we do every day. Individuals like the person in a question mark suit (not the Riddler!), and other charlatans, have made a mockery of our livelihoods for years. That “misunderstanding” of what grant professionals actually are and what they do, is what drove the GPA founders to create our organization.
Since our founding, the grantsmanship world has grown and changed significantly in response to funders and the people they represent. The GPA, and its members, have undergone those changes as well. The GPCI was formed and we have a credentialing process in place. And our membership has increased exponentially throughout the year. Great things have come our way by staying the course and continuing to believe in making ethical decisions throughout our careers.
These great things we have accomplished have transferred directly to the organizations we support. Each year, we ensure the ongoing mission of our organizations. We cannot do that without remaining ethical in our day-to-day activities. When the GPA was founded, our ethical beliefs were based on this quote, "The GPA Code of Ethics reflects only the highest standards in professional behavior and incorporates the standards promulgated by American Fundraising Professionals and other professions dedicated to serving the greater public good."
Ethics is the reason the GPA was founded, and why we have become the legitimate profession we are today.
What are your personal ethics?
How have you implemented those ethics into your work?