The success of non-profits hinges on the ethical practices of every person involved. A single fraud incident could ruin your non-profit’s reputation permanently.
This is why your non-profit organization needs certain things in place to ensure a smooth whistleblowing system. By making it easier to report and investigate issues, you’ll have happier employees, volunteers and donors.
1. Multiple Methods To Report
Your non-profit needs more than one way to file a report. A hotline works well for those who want to report an incident by phone. However, some members of your organization might not feel comfortable with someone hearing their voice, if they prefer to remain anonymous. This is why having an online whistleblower system works well. Having both capabilities in place gives your employees and volunteers two options for reporting unethical behavior and systems.
2. Explain How Whistleblowers Are Protected
Few people will utilize whistleblower tools if they aren’t guaranteed some type of protection. While there are legal protections in place, whistleblowers still might face retaliation. Your non-profit needs a clear policy in place of how whistleblowers will be treated. This includes ways for them to report retaliation and ensure they are able to keep their jobs without being harassed.
Not only should you have this policy in place, but follow through. When an issue is reported, treat the whistleblower with respect. Unless absolutely necessary, keep the whistleblower’s identity secret.
3. Custom Reporting System
Having a whistleblower reporting system in place is a great start, but it must be customized to your organization. It should reflect your non-profit’s unique risks. For instance, a non-profit supporting food for the homeless won’t have the same ethical risks as a nail salon or a major tech corporation. Every organization needs a system they can customize to make it easier for employees and volunteers to correctly report wrongdoing.
4. Investigative Team
Your non-profit needs to have an investigative team in place. Train this team on your whistleblowing policy and ethics policy. Train them on how to properly investigate issues and what to do once they have their results.
Ensure the team is responding to reports in a timely manner. Random audits or test complaints will help to test how quickly and appropriately the team responds.
5. Clear Investigative Policy
What’s the point of having a whistleblower system in place at your non-profit if no one knows how issues are investigated? Your employees and volunteers may hesitate to report anything if they don’t know what to expect as a result. Will they be questioned? How long does the process take? What happens if their report can’t be proven?
Explain how your non-profit investigates every report, including how long the process should be. Also, detail how the whistleblower will know when the investigation is over.
Once these five things are in place, your non-profit has a bright future ahead as whistleblowers keep your organization more ethical.