ICMA members may be asked to raise funds for ballot initiatives, community projects, and other interests.
All fundraising activities are governed by these key principles:
- Do not leverage your position for personal gain. Tenet 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics and its guideline on gifts remind members not to leverage their position for personal gain and avoid soliciting money if the individual or the individual’s organization might view the contribution as a “favor” and expect special treatment from the member in the future. Members should exercise good judgment and refrain from soliciting funds from a business if they have a specific issue that may be coming before the local government in the near future for action or a decision.
- Refrain from asking employees to donate. Members may provide employees with information about the cause and give them an opportunity to donate if they are so inclined. Do not directly ask a subordinate to donate since this may create a situation where employees feel uncomfortable or even coerced into donating.
- Exercise discretion. Members should feel free to decline to participate in fundraising activities for any cause if they feel it is inappropriate. An option to consider is to serve in a strategic capacity offering advice on fundraising rather than personally doing the direct ask.
- Do not fundraise for candidates seeking elected office. Tenet 7 of the ICMA Code of Ethics reminds all members in service to a local government (whether it is on a full-time, part-time, or an interim basis) to “refrain from all political activities which undermine public confidence in professional administrators.”
There are a few areas concerning fundraising worthy of additional guidance:
- Projects in the Employing Local Government: To promote transparency in the process, a member should take these steps:
- Obtain governing body approval for the fundraising effort.
- Provide clear guidance and direction to staff who may be engaged in fundraising.
- Publicly announce a fundraising campaign is under way and outline the parameters of the campaign in writing.
- Regularly report on the sources and amounts of donated funds and services.
- Ballot Measures: Tenet 7 of the ICMA Code of Ethics has a guideline on “presentation of issues” that defines how members can engage in these areas. Members may assist their governing body in the presentation of issues involved in referenda such as bond issues, annexations, and other matters that affect the government entity’s operations and/or fiscal capacity.
- Financial contributions to a Political Action Committee organized to promote an issue: When advocating for an issue, comply with all legal requirements that may apply and consider the governing body’s position on the issue. If the governing body has taken an official stance, members may be obliged to represent the official position of the governing body. If the governing body has not taken an official position or is split on the issue, carefully consider how engaging in fundraising for the measure may reflect on your official responsibilities and your relationship with the governing body.