Ask the Ethicist: #WFH Behavior

By the Apra Ethics & Compliance Committee

Dear Ethicist,

I’m finding myself even more active on social media, especially Twitter, during this #WFH era. I’m enjoying the virtual interaction with my Apra peeps; however, I’ve seen tweets that make me go “Hmmmm…” While I do enjoy discussing work with other colleagues, I’m not sure about openly discussing specifics regarding our daily work-related activities on Twitter. I’ve seen people tweeting pics of their #WFH setup and I can clearly see their constituent relationship management (CRM) system and notes in the background. I’ve seen Apra peeps celebrate solving a prospect development mystery with pithy GIFs which make us look like private detectives who ruffle through prospects’ trash cans! Am I just being too sensitive here? Should I call out prospect development “tweeple” (or about their actions?

Sincerely,

Cautious Tweeter

Dear Cautious Tweeter,

Confidentiality and acceptable behavior extend to social media platforms. Prospect development professionals can benefit from participating in social media discussions, but due to the public nature of these platforms, our behavior within social media especially needs to be in alignment with Apra’s Principles of Ethics and Compliance, which was updated in June 2020. Specifically, the Professional Standards and Behaviors section includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Uphold the highest standards of conduct in every professional situation, perform all work the highest level of discretion and accept responsibility for your own professional actions and decisions.
  • Respect the privacy of constituents and maintain the confidentiality of constituent information at all times. Record and disclose only information appropriate for fundraising activities.
  • Be honest about your identity and role when using social media in your work and do not unreasonably intrude on an individual’s privacy through social media platforms.
  • Follow your organization’s social media policies regarding the online interactions that are appropriate for your role.

 

The Apra Representation section further provides the following:

  • Always act in a way that supports and upholds the reputation and values of the prospect development profession and of Apra.
  • If you suspect unethical conduct, alert your senior leadership and/or Apra for guidance and recommended courses of action.
  • Act in a manner that increases public understanding of prospect development.

Cautious Tweeter, we commend you for reaching out to ATE for guidance. In terms of what additional action you could take:

  • Share this ATE on Twitter and/or directly and privately with those prospect development Twitter users.
  • Direct message Twitter users who have posted something for public consumption that seems to be out of alignment with Apra’s Principles of Ethics and Compliance.
  • Reach out to Apra’s Ethics & Compliance Committee and/or a trusted Apra board member for additional guidance as needed.
  • Reassess your own organization’s policy on social media behavior. See this as an opportunity to further this discussion with your own internal colleagues as well.

We are most fortunate to be part of a collegial and engaged prospect development and fundraising community. But we all must step back before we tweet and ask ourselves, “How could this be perceived by my colleagues? My organization? My organization’s supporters? My professional association, Apra? A reporter?” One can still be active in social media and collegial and share in the fun that is our profession without compromising our principles of ethics and compliance.

Bonus: This is part of a bigger issue. This behavior isn’t limited to Twitter. All social media platforms, and even Zoom calls (internal and external), have the potential of overexposing constituent information. We need to be mindful of our behavior and that of our colleagues.

Principle-y yours,

The Ethicist

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