National Ethics Survey Released for Non-Profit Workers

Recently the Ethics Resource Center conducted a survey of nonprofit workers at the same time that public and private sector employees were asked to assess their ethical environments.


ERC’s 2007 National Nonprofit Ethics Survey, recently released, showed:

  • As in the past, nonprofit organizations’ ethical standing remains superior to the other sectors.
  • Nevertheless, integrity in the nonprofit sector is eroding; misconduct is rising — particularly financial fraud, which now is more prevalent among nonprofits than in business or government.
  • Size makes a difference, with mid-sized nonprofits at greatest risk for misconduct.
  • Boards, while very important in shaping the perceptions of employees with regard to ethics, are not taking advantage of their influence to set clear ethics standards for their nonprofit organizations. Where boards have heavy influence, there also are high levels of misconduct and lower perceptions that top leaders prioritize ethics.

“One would think that freed from the pressure to generate and distribute profits to shareholders, nonprofit organizations would rise high above the myriad ethics and compliance issues that have plagued the public and private sectors over the years,” said ERC President Patricia Harned, Ph.D. “Unfortunately, the 2007 National Nonprofit Ethics Survey (2007 NNES) paints a very different picture. The nonprofit sector that for so long enjoyed a better reputation with regard to its ethics now exhibits many of the shortcomings ERC found in its companion surveys of the public and private sectors.”

ERC found that the key ethical challenges for nonprofits fall along the same lines as for the private and public sectors. In 2007, the types of misconduct most widely observed by nonprofit employees were: putting one’s own interests ahead of the organization’s — 24%; lying to employees — 21%; abusive behavior and misreporting hours worked — each 19%.

For more information about Ethics Resource Center, visit

Every choice has a consequence. As a business ethics speaker, I speak from first hand experience about the truth about consequences. Reality is – no one escapes the consequences of their choices. Many major ethics lapses wind up with a conviction and possible prison sentence. Prison is no fun! You do reap what you sow.

As with most of my blogs – COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.

Have you witnessed any unethical behavior as a result participation in a non-profit organization.

Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…


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