Skip to content

A New Donor Code of Conduct

MFG Archive

Today we present a piece from The Stanford Social Innovation Review that proposes a new code of conduct for donors.


As regular readers, we expect you have seen – and hopefully signed up to – The Lake Washington Declaration, a bold new set of principles for our social sector. In a similar vein to this, we are highlighting a recent post from The Stanford Social Innovation Review, by Ken Banks, that proposes a code of conduct for donors.


Focusing on “today’s technology-for-development (ICT4D) community, which has a habit of trying the same things over and over,” Ken Banks believes change is necessary in order for progress. As the founder of FrontlineSMS, who play a big role in ICT4D, he feels strongly that while “most of us could likely name a few projects we’d define as successful, donors often chase scale not success.” It is this thought process that has led him to question how change may arise.


Specifically, Banks asks the following: “What if all major philanthropic foundations signed a Donors Charter that encourages much greater scrutiny of any technology-based projects they might be considering funding?” He argues that “it would help stop the vast amounts of replication, failed pilots, secrecy, and near-zero levels of collaboration with project owners in the field.”


As a result of this belief, Banks, now also a co-founder at has created just such a charter. You can read more about the Donors Charter on’s new website. Banks believes the Charter is necessary because “we owe it to the people we seek to help to do everything we can to avoid not only making mistakes, but making the same ones over and over again.”


Is the Donors Charter the solution to the problems he highlights at the start of his article? Is this be something that you think will tackle the problems Banks raises, and that donors would subscribe to, or do you, our Markets For Good readers see an alternative solution?

Many thanks to Ken Banks for his argument for change, and proposed solution of the Donors Charter. Let us know whether you would sign up, and what you think of the Charter itself.

To stay up to date with the latest Markets For Good articles and news, sign up to our newsletter here. Make sure that you are also following us on Twitter.