Ethical Dilemma Discussion: what would you do?

Your club hosts a fundraiser for scholarships for local high school students who plan to pursue studies focused on promoting peace and resolving conflicts. You are on the planning committee and responsible for promoting the scholarship to potential donors. That includes ensuring that the intent is clear. The scholarships will be awarded to the selected students in order to pay their tuition fees.

After the fundraiser, when the goal has been reached, a local organization that works with refugees contacts your club. The organization requests the club’s financial support for a few students who are refugees and attend the same high school for which your club raised money. The families of the students are struggling to pay for basic daily expenses such as meals and books.

After some discussion, your club decides to support the refugee students with the money from the fundraiser. Club members reason that the money will still be used for the intended purposes, to promote peace and empower youth. Although you are in favor of helping the refugee students, you’re not sure if using the money that was donated for the scholarships would still fulfill the donors’ intent.

What would you do?


15 thoughts on “Ethical Dilemma Discussion: what would you do?

    1. I agree with you, George. The cause of the refugee students is a worthy one, but I think this money should go to the purpose for which it was raised, as this was an understood commitment to the donors.

      1. I posit the comment could have been better worded. Nonetheless, it squarely addresses the ethical issue at hand.

  1. I would say we are obligated to support the scholarships – also offer club support with a special fundraiser to help the refugees.
    Hopefully one day a child of a refugee could receive a scholarship!!

  2. What has been the wording in the promotional material? Has it been mentioned who is making the final decision on who receives the scholarship funding? Have there been any applications from students and were guidelines set out for those applications? If there is going to be a major change the donors need to be included in the decision making.

  3. Supporting the refugee students with basic needs from the fundraiser would clearly constitute a deviation from the original objective of the fundraiser as well as the donor intent. since both are worthy causes, can you revert to the donors and get their view on the proposed adjusted plan and intent. RTN asaph Muhanguzi

  4. Apply the funds raised for the original intent and do another fundraiser for the refugees or direct them to other sources to seek help. It’s wrong and unfair to use others to raise funds for their cause and then apply the funds raised to a different need. If you raise ones expectations, you must live up to it.

  5. The only ethical thing to do is to use the funds that were donated for the original purpose. There are so many other opportunities for matching grants or further fund raising to help the refugees.

  6. I don’t think supporting the refugee students meets the goals of the fundraiser as we know it. Going back to the donors may be difficult if there are many (small) donors, and then you have the question how much agreement would be enough to change the scope of the scholarships. 100%? 95%? 51%? By number of donors or by value? A major can-o-worms. Supporting the refugees is a worthy cause, but should be funded from other sources. If none are available, arrange another fundraiser, make a cash-call, or work with other clubs in the area.

  7. The four way test of Rotary needs to be the guideline in these situations. Changing the purpose of the fund raising donations fails the four way test.

  8. Since it is saying that the money is for tution fees for the students selected. I would give it to the students selected.
    Since the help is being asked by refugees, I would start another fundraiser as well.
    I am pretty sure if the fundraising is doing another different activity. With a plan in mind. It could help the refugees as well.

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