When organizing a charity fashion show, would it be ethical for the designer/organizer to profit from pre-orders generated by the show?
by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space
This is a difficult question to answer. But maybe I can help. First, ask yourself if someone else did this, would you consider it unethical? Imagine it is one of your competitors, and they did exactly the same thing, would you consider it to be crossing the line? That’s your answer.
Another way to approach this is to ask yourself what the risk is. Even if something isn’t technically unethical, simply the suggestion of impropriety can damage your reputation. So what is the value of your reputation vs. what would you gain by profiting from the pre-orders?
Another way to deal with this is to ask the charity for permission and get it in writing. Make the pre-orders as part of the deal, and openly state this. If everyone agrees that you are entitled to make a profit from the pre-orders, and it’s fully disclosed that this has nothing to do with the charity event, then you are clearly doing nothing wrong.
Again, there are no rules when it comes to this sort of thing, but merely by asking the question, you are bringing up a scenario where someone can point a finger at you. If your reputation is important to you, I would error on the conservative side and give everything associated with the charity event to the charity, unless it’s explicitly agreed upon and communicated to both the customers and the charity that you will be keeping the profits from all pre-orders.
In other words, I recommend that if you want to profit from the pre-orders, whenever a customer pre-orders, you make it crystal clear in writing that this isn’t part of the charity drive, and you also make clear to the charity, that it is your policy to keep the pre-order profits.
I hope this helps!