Are Nonprofits Really “Rotting From the Head Down”?

Are nonprofits sufficiently policing their ethics? Consider the following, from a 2012 Nonprofit Quarterly article:

Slightly more than half of employees in nonprofits observed misconduct in the previous year, and this is roughly on par with that observed in the other sectors. “On average,” the report states, “nonprofits face severe risk from a handful of behaviors: conflicts of interest, lying to employees, misreporting hours worked, abusive behavior, and Internet abuse.” The value of a well-implemented ethics program is beyond question. In organizations with little to no ethics and compliance program, 68 percent of employees observed two or more types of misconduct over the course of a year. This is significantly reduced to just 22 percent in organizations with a well-implemented program.

The answer to our title is, plainly, no. But the article makes an important point. Ethics matter, and nonprofits are no exception.

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