Key Ethical Behaviours of Successful Researchers

01. Introduction to Key Ethical Behaviours of Successful Researchers

Ethical behaviours should underpin all aspects of prospect research. This chapter will demonstrate why ethical practice is fundamental to effective prospect research in support of mitigating risks, maximising opportunities, encouraging compliance, and fulfilling the organisation’s moral responsibilities.

Ethics are the set of moral principles which guide a person’s behaviours and actions, often derived from common societal principles. Like society, frameworks for ethical behaviour are everchanging. In line with these broader changes, prospect researchers are responsible for adjusting their behaviours to ensure their work remains respectful of relevant stakeholders, such as donors and prospective supporters.

Ethical behaviour is particularly important where prospect researchers are responsible for handling sensitive and personal data relating to individuals, along with commercially sensitive information relating to organisations. Prospect research is often a strategic activity, requiring a balancing of the rights of prospective donors with the business needs of the organisation. Underpinning ethical behaviours in all areas of prospect research empowers you to make decisions that are strategic, compliant and in the best interest of your organisation. This chapter also addresses the pitfalls and consequences which can arise if prospect research is not grounded in ethical behaviours.

What is considered ethical is ever changing. The ever evolving nature of ethics means that organisations and their staff must continually review their practices to ensure they align with the current cultural and legal understanding. This type of change can create conflict, so researchers should ensure that their information sources are reliable and well documented. Researchers can use many different resources to keep their practice up to date and these are explored under the chapter heading ‘Confidence in your Ethical Practice’. Greater detail on ethics policies and procedures can be found in the dedicated Handbook chapter on this topic.

Topics covered in this chapter include:

  • Introduction to key ethical behaviours in prospect research
  • Competing / incompatible ethics
  • Ethical and efficient behaviour: are they compatible?
  • Stakeholders in ethical practice and how they are involved
  • Ethical communications behaviours
  • Confidence in your ethical practice
  • Skills, knowledge, and abilities of ethical prospect researchers
  • Further Resources

By the end of this chapter, you will have an increased awareness of ethical behaviours and skills that promote objective, evidence based prospect research and its implementation in alignment with organisational values and strategy. You will also develop an understanding of the ethical need to balance the rights and expectations of a prospect with the needs of your organisation and how to communicate research in a fair and transparent way that encourages stakeholder trust and confidence. Finally, this chapter will leave you feeling confident to model and promote the ethical behaviours in prospect research generally, and particularly in relation to championing data protection and other regulatory compliance and ensuring a robust approach to due diligence and gift acceptance.

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