Code of Ethics

As a grassroots organization, Imagine Children’s Museum has worked over the years to become a respected and trusted nonprofit organization. It is understood by the Board of Directors and Executive Director that the reputation Imagine has earned could be lost if the trust of the public is compromised. Independent Sector (IS), a leadership network for nonprofits, has drafted an outline of principles that is intended for use as a model that organizations can draw from in reviewing or adopting a code of ethics. In developing our own code of ethics, Imagine looked to the professional standards drawn by IS as we believe the work they have done is valuable due to the process used and expertise of individuals involved.1  Imagine Children’s Museum is grateful for the work done by IS to create a document that allows an organization of our size to convey the ideals we value today and for the future.

Imagine Children’s Museum Code of Ethics
I. Personal and Professional Integrity
Imagine Children’s Museum has developed a reputation of trust as staff, Board members and volunteers demonstrate a culture of honesty, integrity and transparency in work done on behalf of Imagine. Imagine promotes an inclusive environment that values respect, fairness and integrity.

II. Mission
Imagine Children’s Museum has a clearly defined mission, vision and beliefs, approved by the Board of Directors, in pursuit of the public good. All of its programs and activities support the mission and those who work for or on behalf of Imagine understand and are loyal to the mission, vision and beliefs. The mission is responsive to the constituencies and communities served by Imagine.

III. Governance
Imagine Children’s Museum has a Board of Directors that is responsible for setting the mission and strategic direction of Imagine and oversight of the finances, operations, and policies of the organization.

The Board of Directors:

•  Ensures that its Board members have the requisite skills and experience to carry out their duties and that members understand and fulfill their Board duties acting for the benefit of Imagine and its public purpose

•  Has a conflict of interest policy that ensures that any conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof are avoided or appropriately managed through disclosure, recusal or other means

•  Is responsible for the hiring, firing, and regular review of the performance of the Executive Director, and ensures
that the compensation of the Executive Director is reasonable and appropriate

•  Ensures that the Executive Director and appropriate staff provide the Board of Directors with timely and comprehensive information so that the Board can effectively carry out its duties

•  Ensures that Imagine conducts all transactions and dealings with integrity and honesty

•  Ensures that Imagine promotes working relationships with Board members, staff, volunteers, and program beneficiaries that are based on mutual respect, fairness and openness

•  Ensures that Imagine is fair and inclusive in its hiring and promotion policies and practices for all Board, staff and volunteer positions

•  Ensures that policies of Imagine are in writing, clearly articulated and officially adopted

•  Ensures that the resources of Imagine are responsibly and prudently managed

•  Ensures that Imagine has the capacity to carry out its programs effectively

IV. Legal Compliance
Imagine Children’s Museum complies with applicable laws and regulations and seeks legal counsel if and when appropriate. Leadership and staff remain diligent in their efforts to be knowledgeable of and in compliance with legal issues.

V. Responsible Stewardship
Imagine Children’s Museum and its subsidiaries manage their funds responsibly and prudently. Imagine:

•  Dedicates a reasonable percentage of its annual budget to programs in pursuance of its mission

•  Dedicates an adequate amount to administrative expenses to ensure effective internal systems, competent staff and other expenditures critical to professional management

•  Compensates staff, and any others who may receive compensation, reasonably and appropriately

•  Dedicates a reasonable amount to fundraising costs

•  Maintains the building and exhibits regularly, and responds in a timely manner to exhibit and building maintenance issues

•  Does not accumulate operating funds excessively; however, does maintain reserves in order to protect the organization in the event of an unforeseen circumstance

•  Prudently draws from endowment funds consistent with donor intent and to support the public purpose of Imagine

•  Ensures that spending practices and policies are fair, reasonable and appropriate to fulfill the mission of Imagine

•  Ensures financial reports are factually accurate and complete in material respects

VI. Openness and Disclosure
Imagine Children’s Museum provides comprehensive and timely information to the public, the media, and all stakeholders and is responsive in a timely manner to reasonable requests for information. Information about Imagine will fully and honestly reflect the policies and practices of the organization. Basic informational data about Imagine Children’s Museum such as the Form 990, reviews and audited financial statements will be posted on Imagine’s website or otherwise made available to the public. All solicitation materials accurately represent Imagine’s policies and practices and will reflect the dignity of program beneficiaries. Financial, organizational and program reports will be complete and accurate in material respects.

VII. Program Evaluation
Imagine Children’s Museum regularly reviews program effectiveness and incorporates lessons learned into future programs. Imagine is committed to improving program and organizational effectiveness and develops means to promote learning from its programs and activities. Imagine is responsive to changes in the industry and is responsive to the needs of its constituencies.

VIII. Inclusiveness and Diversity
Imagine Children’s Museum has a diversity statement promoting inclusiveness and its Board, staff and volunteers reflect diversity and consistently support an environment that is physically and emotionally safe. Imagine embraces inclusiveness in its hiring, retention, promotion, board recruitment and constituencies served.

Imagine’s diversity statement is as follows:
The world becomes a better place when respect, tolerance and inclusion are shared values. At Imagine Children’s Museum, we endeavor to exemplify these values that help shape society for all children and future generations.Imagine is dedicated to providing a safe, nurturing environment and playful learning experiences that inspire children to respect and value themselves, others and the world in which we all live. Imagine welcomes and values our diverse community and strives to instill a sense of belonging. Our Board, staff and committees are reflective of our community and share the commitment to respect. A diverse team ensures that we gain insights and understandings that will allow us to better serve our constituents and strengthen our community. We encourage visitors and all others associated with Imagine to respect these values that protect from discrimination in regard
to race, age, gender identity, physical ability, sexual orientation, family structure, citizenship or socioeconomic background. Together, we will make the world a better place.

IX. Commitment to Donors – Donor Bill of Rights
Imagine Children’s Museum is committed to earning and keeping donor confidence, trust and respect. As a result the organization will not trade, share or sell a donor’s personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations.

Click here for full Donor Bill of Rights


The Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations was drafted by a subcommittee of the Independent Sector Ethics and Accountability Committee. Its members (with affiliations at the time of their service on the subcommittee) included:
•   Cass Wheeler, president and CEO, American Heart Association, chair
•   Ed Able, president and CEO, American Associations of Museums;
•   Angela Glover Blackwell, president, Policy Link;
•   The Reverend J. Bryan Hehir, president, Catholic Charities USA;
•   Graham Phaup, executive director, Institute for Global Ethics;
•   H. Art Taylor, president and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance; and,
•   Bill Trueheart, president and CEO, The Pittsburgh Foundation