Start 'em Young

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Everybody who has thrown their hat into the ring for the 2008 Presidential race is looking for a fundraising edge to vault them ahead of their competitors: Mitt Romney, vying for the Republican nomination, has targeted students as fundraisers, promising them a 10% commission for every dollar over $1,000 they bring in. It's an arrangement that raises some ethical questions.


First, although commission-based fundraising is practiced in some campaigns (particularly Republican campaigns) the Association of Fundraising Professionals explicitly forbids commission-based fundraising in its Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice. They do this to avoid a situtation wherein a fundraiser is acting for personal gain outside of the interests of the organization that employs them.


Secondly, it creates a situation where young people looking to get hands on experience in the political process are treated like glorifed telemarketers -- whether that be a symptom of the larger ills of our election system where money rules all, or a cynical exploitation of young workers who want to be involved in the campaign it's distressing that youth involvement in this campaign will be concentrated in dialing for dollars.