Ethical Dilemma Discussion: what do you do?

Your club is working to provide technology and training for teachers and children at a school in a very low-income area with limited educational resources. During your search for sponsors, a club member in a senior position at a well-known business offers to pay most of the project’s costs. This sponsorship would allow you to complete the project quickly, and kids would be in classrooms learning in just a short time. You are grateful for the generosity but hesitate because this business has been in the media over some ethical concerns. You aren’t sure it’s a good idea to accept the sponsorship, but raising the funds in other ways could sharply delay the project.

What would you do?

Author: rotaryservice

The Rotary Service Connections blog helps Rotarians plan effective and inspired service projects. If you have questions, comments, or story recommendations, contact us at rotary.service@rotary.org

18 thoughts on “Ethical Dilemma Discussion: what do you do?”

    1. Dump that sponsor …. Its an all or nothing binary Four Way Test world … Keep Rotary clean … Australians prefer not to mess around … Where there’s smoke there’s fire …

  1. Certainly, the type of ethical charges and the seriousness of the “concerns” should be thoroughly vetted. Explain your hesitation to the company officials, and arrive at the decision, based on the effect on the Club of such a partnership. To do one project speedily is not worth the risk of tarnishing your Club and Rotary’s image.

  2. The scenario is too vague to answer the question. Just sayuing the firm has “been in the media over some ethical concerns,” does not tell us enough about the situation to make a judgement. What concerns? Are there allegations of wrongdoing, rumors having to do with children? My advice in general is that club members whose businesses wish to sponsor a program probably should remain anonymous. The business could donate the money to the club foundation, and still make a positive impact in the community, without getting publicity that might bubble over onto the club’s reputation.

    1. I agree with lindemann06 that the scenario is too vague to make a reasoned decision. Either an anonymous donation from the company to the club foundation, as she suggests, or declining it altogether would seem to be the best alternatives. What does the member who works for this company have to say to the club?

  3. I would arrange for a meeting with someone from the company. I would try to frankly discuss the “bad press” the company has received and ask about the company’s response. If the company wants to improve its image in the community, I would accept the funds and make some sort of joint press release with the company. The press release could explain the company’s position about the bad press it has received and that it wants to set the record straight. Maybe the company also wants to “kick off” its image by supporting an important community project. The company chose Rotary because of its excellent reputation around the world. Rotary gets things done. The Rotary club could explain that they discussed the ethical concerns with the company and feels comfortable that the company is moving in the right direction.

    I think this approach is a positive one for both organizations.

  4. I would confront the ceo of the company about the ethical rumours and ask for an explanation. I would work quickly to determine if the rumours were true. If true, decline the support. If unsupported, gratefully accept the support.

  5. First find out what the Media interest is. What are the “ethical”issues? Are they serious enought to warrant having nothing to do with the firm. Are they the Rotary member’s issues? The question is too vague to give a proper answer but I like the suggestion that the money should be donated anonymously to the club’s Foundation and then used.

  6. Rotary is a global brand synonymous with integrity which of course symbolizes high ethical standard, therefore the issues raised by the media should be thoroughly looked into and if the bad outweighs the good ( e.g if the firm is involved in serious crime issues such as narcotics, terrorism, money laundering etc) the club should keep a clear distance in order not to tarnish the hard earned image and repute Rotary has built over the years. However if the issues are weighed and the issues are unsubstantiated then the donation could be accepted. All in all the club should not be too quick in accepting donations that may be tainted. I suggest that rather than make donations anonymous , donations should be highly publicized so that the public can be afforded the opportunity of having an input into the acceptance or decline of the offer, that way transparency is assured.

  7. There are times when clubs struggle to raise money and is especially true when the project is one for children in schools. The issue maybe be better looked at as a moral dilemma that needs balance of effects. One positive balancing the negative image in the community. Just saying this does not mean everything is perfect but the children and teachers will get the funds sooner and the overall good deed accomplished. The offer is from a rotarian and club member which says so much in the first place. Just saying!

  8. Our reputation is our key and critical asset to donations, membership, access and assistance.

    Regardless of specifics in the case study, you can establish a stance by asking yourself; “Am I prepared to answer the media question on why Rotary accepted funds from a company accused of [insert ethical wrongdoing]?” then; “Am I prepared for a social media campaign against my club by somebody aggrieved by company X behaviour?” (remembering that the ‘truth’ on social media is whatever the readers believe). The answer to these questions will point you in the right direction.

    Remember too, anonymous donations are not guaranteed to remain so; this route is similar to just ignoring the ethical concerns.

  9. ethics is central to good reputation including the gorgeous one tha rotary has built over the years . Even then it will be crucial in all cases to be tacitly enterprising to ask for support from whomever is just or assume to be credible and it’s also conscientious to be WARY in accepting support from dubious or questionable sources,in fact the above scenario realyoutt xvery hypothetical maybe to troubleshoot Rotary leaders and clubs how we raise support or if we put credibility in the forefront in raising support for projects at all!
    in order not to be a wet blanket to those who are credible and are maligned or accused by social media or regular press of a Undisclosed obnoxiousness or misdemeanor it is CRUCIAL we watch before we LEAP ,but WHAT we ve leaped into a gutter cash or goody needed – are we going to regret tragically as if we will commt suicide subsequently?
    no we should JUSt KNOW our community and significant others there and if we re blessed or helped from without we should public ally & personally acknowledge such a gesture,By the word public ally recognize. Doesn’t mean advertise to any media per se I mean within the club or clubs or zones or conjittee involved in the project – remotely or otherwise someone will kow about the integrity or comm profile of the donor or company involved and advise justly on the dilemma and it won’t be a HAD I KNOW or had we know we shouldnt have accepted or rejected the offer.
    *all Contributions above are actually NOT out of context of the THE 4 WAY TEST and show that Rotarians & project leaders sincerely want to sustain INTEGRITY which is a common place of Rotary style and spirit while navigating for support -talent or materials.Both the poser and the response generated are well placed.Inwas so curious to search for it- next to godliness which may look it far reached to believers -I guess it’s integrity that cuts across as challenging element of character or personality or reliability to all whatever your belief model as a faithfulor free thinker.Hope we will continue to flag and uphold this credibility aspect despite the flexibility in membership ,recruiting and project Service drives now possible within clubs bye laws in Rotary.26/07/16,326amgbemisoyetijani

  10. Errata noted. The above scenario was really well thought out to trouble shoot, nb.Committee not cojjitte,which may look not far reachable, I was so curious ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s