Code of Ethics

The Disability Rights Fund is committed to the public good, accountability to the public, responsible stewardship of resources, and the highest ethical standards. This Code of Ethics does not cover every issue that may arise, but sets out basic principles to guide staff, advisors, and the board of directors. Our values are supported by policies and procedures that staff and board follow.

I. Personal and Professional Integrity

All staff and board members will act with honesty, integrity and openness in working toward the organization’s mission. The organization promotes a working environment that values respect, fairness, dignity, and integrity.

II. Mission

The organization has a clearly stated mission and purpose, approved by the Board of Directors. All of its programs support that mission and all who work for or on behalf of the organization are expected to understand that mission and purpose.

III. Values

The Disability Rights Fund encourages and promotes, for ourselves and our partners, respect for the general principles stated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 3), as follows:

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
  • Belief in the potential of persons with disabilities

We also encourage and promote respect for these additional principles:

  • Learning and Change: Embracing an open approach to the work we are doing to advance rights of persons with disabilities. This requires learning from our actions, responding to needs as well as successes, and changing course when appropriate
  • Partnerships: Encouraging the pursuit of a variety of partnerships as part of a strategy to increase capacity and advance rights
  • Accountability: Committing to take responsibility for one’s actions, especially when in a position of power
  • A Culture of Rights: Promoting rights-based policies and programs
  • Sustainability: Recognizing the need for community-led processes that can be sustained long-term in an environmentally friendly manner
  • Celebration: Remembering the importance of sharing positive experiences, reflecting on achievements, and celebrating the diversity around us.

IV. Governance

The organization has an active governing body that is responsible for setting the mission and strategic direction and managing oversight of the finances, operations and policies. The governing body will take reasonable steps to:

  • Ensure that its board members have the requisite skills and experience to carry out their duties and fulfill their governance duties acting for the benefit of the organization and its purpose
  • Have a conflict-of-interest policy that ensures that any conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof are avoided or appropriately managed through disclosure, recusal, or other means
  • Ensure that the Executive Director and appropriate staff provide the governing body with timely and comprehensive information so that the governing body can effectively carry out its duties
  • Ensure that the organization conducts all transactions and dealings with integrity and honesty
  • Ensure that the organization promotes working relationships with donors, board members, staff, consultants, volunteers, and grantees that are based on mutual respect, fairness, and openness
  • Ensure that the organization is fair and inclusive in its hiring and promotion policies and practices for all board, staff, consultant, and volunteer positions
  • Ensure that policies of the organizations are in writing, clearly articulated, and officially adopted
  • Ensure that the resources of the organization are responsibly and prudently managed
  • Ensure that the organization has the capacity to carry out its programs effectively.

V. Legal Compliance

The staff and board are expected to follow the U.S. federal and Massachusetts State law and applicable international conventions, both in letter and spirit.

VI. Responsible Stewardship

The organization manages its funds responsibly and prudently. The staff and board members ensure that:

  • An adequate amount is spent on administrative expenses to ensure effective accounting systems, internal controls, competent staff, and other expenditures critical to professional management
  • Staff compensation is reasonable and appropriate
  • All spending practices and policies are fair, reasonable, and appropriate to fulfill the mission
  • All financial reports are factually accurate and complete in all material respects.

VII. Openness and Disclosure

The organization aims to provide comprehensive and timely information to the public, the media, and all stakeholders and is responsive in a timely manner to reasonable requests for information. All information about the organization will fully and honestly reflect the policies and practices of the organization. Basic informational data about the organization, such as the federal tax return and audited financial statements, will be available to the public. All financial, organizational, and program reports will be complete and accurate.

VIII. Program Evaluation

The organization regularly reviews program effectiveness and incorporates lessons learned into future programs. The organization is committed to improving program and organizational effectiveness and developing mechanisms to promote learning from the organization’s activities. The organization is responsive to changes in its field of activity and the needs of its grantees.

IX. Inclusiveness and Diversity

The organization is committed to promoting inclusiveness in its staff and board of directors in order to enrich its programmatic effectiveness. The organization promotes inclusiveness in hiring, retention, promotion, board recruitment and constituencies served.

X. International Philanthropy

The following seven principles (adopted from the Council on Foundation / European Foundation Center, Principles of Accountability for International Philanthropy) are intended to guide the international philanthropic work of the organization:

  • Integrity. Engage in international philanthropy in a way that is in line with and truthful to our mission, values, vision, and core competencies.
  • Understanding. Take the time to research and understand the political, economic, social, cultural, and technological context in which our international philanthropy will take place.
  • Respect. Avoid cultural arrogance by respecting cultural differences and human diversity. Recognize local knowledge, experience, and accomplishments. Be modest about what we know, what we can accomplish with the resources we have, and what we have yet to learn. When visiting international grantees and partners, we will always keep in mind that we are guests in someone else’s country.
  • Listen carefully to our international grantees and partners in order to understand and respond adequately to their needs and realities.
  • Be reasonable and flexible in what we require from our grantees and partners, ensuring that our demands are proportionate to the level, purpose, and nature of our support.
  • Cooperation and Collaboration. Recognize that international work calls for a high level of cooperation and collaboration among funders themselves and with a variety of actors, including DPOs, NGOs, businesses, governments, and multilateral organizations. Strive to work collaboratively in order to maximize resources, build synergies, boost creativity, and increase learning and impact.
  • Assess whether our international philanthropy is effective by engaging in a process of mutual learning with our peers, grantees, and partners. Demonstrate how our international philanthropy contributes to the achievement of our organization’s mission and the advancement of the public good. Plan for sustainability and commit to staying long enough to be effective.

XI. Fundraising

When raising funds, the organization is truthful in its solicitation materials. The organization respects the privacy concerns of individual donors, expends funds consistent with donor intent, and discloses important and relevant information to potential donors. In raising funds from the public, the organization respects the rights of donors:

  • To be informed of the mission of the organization, the way the resources will be used and its capacity to use donations effectively for its intended purposes
  • To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s board of directors and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities
  • To have access to the organization’s most recent audited financial report
  • To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given
  • To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition
  • To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by the law
  • To expect professional and respectful conduct from the organization’s staff
  • To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organizations or hired solicitors
  • To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that the organization may intend to share
  • To remain anonymous
  • To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers
  • To serve on the Grantmaking Committee

XII. Reporting Procedures

Staff is encouraged to seek guidance from the Executive Director or a member of the Board of Directors concerning the interpretation or application of this Code.  Board members are likewise encouraged to approach the Chair of the Board or other appropriate board member. Any known or possible breaches of the Code should be disclosed. Reports of possible breaches should follow the procedures outlined in the organization’s Whistleblower Policy.

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