The NNCG Code of Ethical Conduct

Lauren Kay

The creation of a Code of Ethical Conduct was one of the first items of business in 2006 for the newly established National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (NNCG). With the goal of raising the bar overall for the burgeoning field of philanthropy consultants, NNCG founders recognized the need to set standards and benchmarks for quality that could help steer foundations and other grantmakers towards the professionals who would most effectively guide their grantmaking.

Stephen Johnson, vice president of The Philanthropic Initiative, along with then TPI CEO Joe Breiteneicher (now deceased), worked together to create the initial document that would become NNCG’s guiding statement on member ethics. A committee comprising 10 professionals representing foundations, independent philanthropy consultants and grantmaker support organizations worked with them to refine a final set of 15 principles. These principles address such issues as avoiding conflicts of interest, placing first the best interests of clients and the public, charging reasonable fees, and respecting the intellectual property of peers. While they can be interpreted more broadly, they were drafted with a lens focused on philanthropy ‘consultants’ rather than technical financial and legal ‘advisers’. That is, on the professionals whose expertise is in core programmatic and management issues related to the work of foundations and the needs of individual donors.

NNCG was created in response to the needs of donors and grantmakers, who increasingly turn to consultants to support and often transform their work. By offering a forum for peer networking and sharing, an opportunity for learning, and an online directory that offers access to vetted, ethical consultants, NNCG works to realize its mission to increase the quality, effectiveness and capacity of grantmakers.

Our Code of Ethical Conduct is clearly a guiding set of principles rather than an enforceable code. Still, in joining NNCG and supporting its code, our members are making an important statement about the importance they place on integrity and professionalism in the field. So, too, are the donors, foundations and other grantmakers who we expect will come to rely on NNCG membership as a standard for excellence when seeking assistance in developing and realizing their philanthropic goals.

Lauren Kay is the project director for NNCG, a Tides Center Project. Email

For more information including Directory of Consultants
For the Code of Ethical Conduct

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