Ethical Considerations for Screening Donors to Protect Institutional Reputation



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Protect your institution’s reputation through deliberate screening of potential donors throughout the fundraising cycle. 


How much risk is your institution willing to take upon receiving a gift? This question is one that every advancement shop should answer or, at minimum, have discussed with their team members to devise a plan that mitigates liability.  

With an institution’s reputation being an intangible asset based upon the public’s trust and support, damage to this carefully managed image can result in legal complications and ultimately, the loss of fundraising revenue. As a result, part of your role as a major gift officer is to protect your institution's reputation through strategic screening of potential donors and their gifts.  

Join us online to learn how Yale University recommends how you can position yourself in donor conversations to uncover potential risks to your institution. In this training, you will learn ethical considerations behind big gifts by learning about Yale’s reputational risk methodology and how to thoroughly screen donors for risk throughout the fundraising lifecycle. Participants will explore case studies that help you practice identifying risk in donor conversations and apply the tools provided in the training to these kinds of conversations. 


Who Should Attend

This program will benefit major gift officers and those who work within advancement services screening donors. For the major gift officer, screening donors for risk begins with the discovery call and continues in each conversation thereafter. For the advancement services professionalthis training will help you develop or improve upon a reputational risk methodology that can be applied to every gift you consider.  


December 3, 2021

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Eastern


Reputational Risk Methodology 

Each type of gift comes with its own type of risk. Knowing the nuances between whether that risk comes from the donor’s public reputation, the source of the funding, or even the intent behind the giving, provides a sound understanding of the ethics behind whether your institution should accept the gift will help you protect your institutional reputation. You will learn how a reputational risk methodology can be applied to your shop and what ethical considerations to include within it.



Identifying Risk in Donor Conversation 

As a major gift officer, you are on the front lines of screening donors for potential risk. By utilizing the reputational risk methodology as a guide to prepare for your donor conversations, you will learn what questions to ask that can uncover potential risk and how to dig deeper into any red flags that may arise. Through case studies, you will have the opportunity to discuss how you would approach different donor conversations and what actions to take after those calls.



Professional portrait of Melinda Papowitz

Melinda Papowitz

Director of Prospect Research, Yale University Office of Enrollment

Melinda J. Papowitz is Director of Prospect Research at Yale University. In this capacity, Melinda oversees prospect research, prospect management, data analysis and prospect identification divisions. Her department serves Yale College and Yale’s schools, museums, libraries, and other program areas. Under her guidance, the prospect research department played a pivotal role in Yale’s successful $3.88 billion campaign and now enthusiastically supports the recently launched “For Humanity” campaign. Melinda has played a leading role in developing protocols for determining and mitigating reputational risk for the university.

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