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CASE Statement on the management of conflicts of interest

Developed by CASE in consultation with the CASE commissions on alumni relations, communications and marketing, and philanthropy, April 2008, and approved by the CASE Board of Trustees, July 2008.

In order for schools, colleges, and universities to build supportive and enduring relationships with key constituencies, they must deliberately and consistently operate in a manner that engenders trust. Real or apparent conflicts of interest, if not managed properly, can seriously undermine that trust.

Conflicts of interest may occur when the interests of the institution differ from those of a constituent or when the interests of an institutional representative differ from those of a constituent or the institution itself. Conflicts of commitment may occur when institutional representatives also have other professional obligations. Not all such conflicts are inappropriate, but they all must be managed thoughtfully, carefully and transparently to serve the greater good and to preserve the mission and values of the institution.

As the premier association representing educational advancement (i.e., alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing, and related areas), CASE offers member institutions and professionals the following guidance regarding the management of conflicts of interest in their advancement operations:

  1. Clear institutional policies regarding conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment should be in place and should identify for faculty, staff, officers and trustees their fiduciary and ethical responsibilities with regard to the interests of the institution and its primary constituents
  2. Those institutional policies should include a process for disclosing conflicts at least annually, as well as a process for reviewing and acting upon those disclosures
  3. In addition to establishing and implementing these policies, institutions should clearly disclose to their primary constituents the process by which conflicts are managed
  4. Moreover, institutions should be transparent in their communications about institutional decisions that directly affect the interests of their primary constituents, including the process and criteria for the selection of third-party service providers
  5. Advancement offices should regularly review their relationships and agreements with service providers to ensure they are in keeping with prevailing laws, institutional policies, professional standards and the best interests of their primary constituents

We also commend to our members a number of resources that can assist them in the development and application of conflict of interest policies. These include:

By consistently placing constituent and institutional interests above personal interests, advancement officers help to ensure enduring and supportive relationships on behalf of their schools, colleges and universities. In so doing, they also uphold the standards and enhance the stature of their profession.

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