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Can You Recite the GPA Code of Ethics?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Diane H. Leonard, GPC
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I was a Girl Scout Troop Leader for years while my two daughters were interested in being a part of the program. Being a Troop Leader meant I had to dig back into my own childhood memory bank to remember the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law. Our troop members, regardless of age, always did a great job learning the Girl Scout Promise together and starting off each of our meetings reciting it together. However, the Girl Scout Law is much longer and was a much larger memorization undertaking. Most of the girls in our troop could give a good summary of the law, but not necessarily recite it word for word without prompting until they were late in elementary school. The way we helped the girls better understand the Law was through activities and group discussion.

If I were to poll members of the Grant Professionals Association, my hunch is the section of the Association’s Code of Ethics that would be the most well-known section would be the section about compensation. It would be a bit like the Girl Scout Promise. Yet, the other sections (perhaps they are listed above compensation on purpose to give them a chance to rise above pay structure in the conversation of ethics?) are just as critical to work as grant professionals; and, while many of us know the main headings and ideas, to recite them would be more like the reciting of the Girl Scout Law.

In fact, just this past week, when our Writing Team was brainstorming and trying out a new style for a Team Working Agreement, we had a discussion about whether we wanted the post-it in our Values section of the Team Working Agreement to be “Ethical” as a value or “Upholds the Ethics of the GPA.” To flush that out, we had a sidebar about what level of summary we could provide to one another outside of the compensation section. Indeed, our descriptions of the sections and sub-items, while accurate, were paraphrases of the actual code.

While we might not have the opportunity for fun activities the way we would in a Girl Scout troop, I find the way to have the strongest understanding of the GPA Code of Ethics is to actively engage in conversations about ethics in the structure of your work. To talk with colleagues about what they experience in their organizations, talk with fellow GPA chapter members about news stories that highlight ethical issues, and know to whom to ask questions if an ethical concern arises in your work.

There are numerous other ways to be part of a conversation about our Association’s Code of Ethics or to learn about the perspectives and experiences of other grant professionals. The recent episode of Fundraising HayDay, “Let’s Get Ethical” is a great example for food for thought for you and your colleagues, as is their related blog post, Ethical Grant Seeking: Beyond Following the Rules. (Of note: my firm is the sponsor of the podcast again this season, so yes, we are biased in that we think it is great!). You can also go back to the GPA blog and read other recent posts on the topic of ethics as a topic of conversation in your Chapter or smaller network including:

Consultants Have Different Ethical Dilemmas, or Do They?
by Cyndi MacKenzie, GPC

Ethics Awareness Month by Jane Howard

Leadership in Ethics by Mike Chamberlain, CAE

What are other ways you plan to keep the dialogue about the code of ethics and what it looks like, how it plays out, and what you’re seeing as points for discussion in the field? I’d love to hear in the comments below or to have you reach out via email or social media to continue the dialogue.


Author Bio: Diane H. Leonard, GPC, CSPO, CSM is a Grant Professional Certified (GPC) and Approved Trainer of the Grant Professionals Association. Diane is also a Licensed Scrum Trainer. Since 2006, Diane and her team have secured more than $65.1 million dollars in competitive grant awards for the clients of DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services. She is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association.

When not working with her team on grant applications for clients, Diane can be found in the 1000 Islands, out for a run, or drinking a strong cup of coffee.


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GPC Competency:

05. Knowledge of post-award grant management practices sufficient to inform effective grant design and development


Nancy Taylor says...
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Just wanted to say "Hi" from a fellow Girl Scout Troop Leader alumnus! I had my core group of Girl Scouts from 1st-12th grade when they graduated last year. I, too, share your memories of teaching the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Thanks! Nancy Taylor