Maintaining Professional Boundaries Policy


The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch recognise the importance of maintaining professional boundaries with our donors and supporters. Whilst it is expected that employees establish a rapport with donors and supporters and provide a friendly and welcoming environment, they are also responsible for establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries between themselves and the donors, supporters and volunteers.

The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch’s boundaries are about establishing what is considered to be appropriate staff behaviour. They allow employees to engage in a supportive relationship with donors and supporters and are based on trust, respect and the appropriate professional method of working with the donors or supporters.

The priority in establishing the RSPCA Coventry and District Branch’s boundaries is, at all times, the donors and supporters needs. The motive behind all employee behavior, should be to assist the donors and supporters, rather than to benefit themselves.

The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch’s Boundaries protect and inform both employees and its donors and supporters, by clarifying what types of employee behaviour are appropriate. They also protect staff from the risk of false allegations of unprofessional conduct.  Clear boundaries help to develop trusting relationships with donors and supporters, who will then know what to expect from employees who in turn, will be professional and deliver high standards of work and consistency.

The policy and its procedure applies to all RSPCA Coventry and District Branch workforce, including senior managers, management committee members, trustees, paid employees, volunteers, students and anyone working on behalf of the RSPCA Coventry & District Branch.

Statement of Intent

The Maintaining Professional Boundaries Policy is intended to define appropriate practice and interaction between RSPCA Coventry and District Branch workforce and its donors and supporters, protecting both parties.

All of the RSPCA Coventry and District Branch workforce, have a responsibility to apply this policy and maintain professional boundaries with donors and supporters.  This is explained in staff induction and volunteer inductions and will be reinforced with guidance and training.

The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch Managers will be responsible for monitoring practice on professional boundaries and challenging team members when standards are not being upheld. Breaches will be addressed at the earliest opportunity.

Policy Definition

A boundary is the limit of behaviour which allows a team member to have a professional relationship with a donor or supporter.  These boundaries are based on trust, respect and appropriate use of power.

A boundary is crossed when a team member initiates behavior, or allows behavior, to persist in a relationship that compromises or sets a future course in the professional relationship with the donor or supporter. The potential for boundary crossings relates directly to the donor or supporter’s position of vulnerability in the relationship.

The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch’s intention is to achieve a shared understanding of acceptable and unacceptable practice.

A boundary is breached when the nature of the relationship is taken advantage of and where it can lead to the relationship moving from being a professional relationship to also being a personal one.


Contact Outside of the Workplace

All of the RSPCA Coventry and District Branch workforce will adhere to the following:

Team members will never give out their personal contact details, or those of colleagues, to donors, supporters or volunteers.

Team members should not allow donors or supporters, to visit their homes.

Team members should not visit donors or supporters in a personal capacity, ie: in their homes or hospital.

Team members should not invite donors or  supporters, to become online friends or otherwise participate in online social networking with donors or supporters, on their personal accounts.

Team members who encounter donors and supporters in a social situation outside of work, should be pleasant and polite, if approached by a donor or supporter, but should not encourage prolonged social contact or discuss any type of professional business associated with the RSPCA Coventry and District Branch.


Policy Principles

  • All of the RSPCA Coventry and District Branch workforce will foster a relationship with donors and supporters, in a transparent and ethical manner, with respect for diversity, values and interests. The workforce will:
  • Assume responsibility for anticipating, establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries with donors and supporters, regardless of the donors or supporters actions, consent or participation;
  • Show awareness of the potential risks within their practice in relation to professional boundaries;
  • Not exploit these relationships for any form of personal gain or benefit;
  • Respect the diversity of the donor or supporter;
  • Not allow their own values or beliefs to adversely affect the professional relationship;
  • Demonstrate that practices and procedures have been established in their procedure, in their attempts to solicit or encourage, the receipt/exchange of the following which include, but are not limited to:
  • Gift-giving by donors and supporters;
  • Social invitations from donors and supporters;
  • Financial connections with donors and supporters;
  • Immediately take steps to address and rectify a boundary violation when it occurs and inform their manager or seek their advice;
  • End the professional relationship when indicated and arrange for referral to another employee;
  • When required, clearly, sensitively and consistently explain, to the donor or supporter, why professional boundaries must be maintained;
  • Inform their Line Manager if they think they are at risk of violating professional boundaries.

It is the Managers and Trustees responsibility to monitor implementation of and adherence to the policy and where deficiencies occur or difficulties arise, to provide supervision, support and guidance. Professional boundaries should be discussed during the induction process to ensure employees are fully aware of the implications of failing to meet expected standards.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies:

  • Safeguarding Policy Statement
  • Equal Rights and Diversity
  • Donation Policy Statement
  • Working with Vulnerable People
  • Vulnerable Donors Policy
  • Grievance Procedure
  • Confidentiality
  • Data Protection