Adopted by unanimous vote by TOS Council - 01/17/2013
This policy stipulates the conditions for accepting financial support from all entities external to The Obesity Society (TOS) and includes but is not limited to corporate, philanthropic or individual (henceforth referred to as “donor”), financial and/or non-financial (i.e. product or services) contributions.
TOS recognizes the value in providing any donor that wishes to support our mission to find solutions to the obesity epidemic the opportunity to provide financial support.
The current TOS policy expressly eliminates all forms of evaluation or judgment of the funding source (other than the stipulation that funding is reasonably assumed not to be derived from activities deemed ‘illegal’).
TOS chooses instead to focus its ethical mission on transparency in disclosing the sources of funding, clear stipulations outlining our commitment to the ethical use of funds, and a commitment to non-influence of the funding sources over the scientific aspects of funded projects and TOS as a whole.
TOS, by adopting an open and transparent approach to all potential funding sources hopes to create an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation of all donors’ potential to contribute, through TOS, to being part of the solution. To this end we have adopted the following 5-point criteria for accepting external funding:
- The donor desires to provide financial support to TOS to further our mission to fight obesity and improve public health.
- The donor agrees that the projects that they support will bear the donor name (e.g. corporate entity, foundation etc) only and not specific products or services.
- The donor agrees that they will have no authority to direct or influence the scientific aspects of research or other projects.
- The donor agrees that the relationship with TOS can in no way be used to imply that TOS endorses the donor or any of its products, services, or mission(s).
- Donors are encouraged to make unrestricted contributions; however, they are permitted to make contributions restricted to a specific purpose, so long as that purpose is consistent with the mission of TOS and does not violate any aspect of the TOS funding policy.
It is further stipulated that:
Funds will only be accepted to do those activities for which TOS is constituted (see Laws and Bylaws).
Funds will not be accepted if they:
i. Set condition(s) above the inferences to be drawn from research or other activities by members of TOS.
ii. Set any conditions about the views to be presented in any TOS forum (including the views of non TOS members).
iii. Restrict the dissemination of any information about or from any TOS activity.
iv. Restrict acceptance of funding from other sources.
v. Entail any obligation to support in any way the goals of the donor, except for those goals that are mutual with TOS for the specific activity funded.
vi. Could, through other kinds of coercion, result in conditions i - v above.
To further ensure our ethical relationship to funding sources:
TOS should seek funding from as wide a variety of donors as possible.
TOS will make these policies (outlined herein) clear to donors before accepting funding.
TOS will disclose all sources of past funding (minimum last 5 years) and current funding in a clearly identified ‘disclosures’ section of the TOS public website. These disclosures will be made by TOS representatives (leadership) when speaking on behalf of TOS (either directly or through identification of the website URL for TOS disclosures). See current disclosures here.
A link to the disclosures webpage (URL) will be part of all official TOS communications (i.e. press releases and policy statements).
Disclosure will also be made at all TOS functions for which specific funding is provided for the event and or its participants and provide a statement that follows a format similar to this in printed materials:
“TOS gratefully acknowledges the unrestricted underwriting of this activity provided by the following donors:
<insert names of donors>
Acceptance of these funds does not imply endorsement of the donor or its products, services or mission.”
With this simple approach to funding, our ethical responsibility is to approve donor funds for unbiased usage and scientifically valuable ends. Donors know that if they provide financial support to TOS they will receive recognition for funding efforts to combat obesity and for the specific programs or grants they funded. Also, TOS commits to use the funds in ways that are appropriate and free from bias and that no TOS policy or action will in any way be influenced by our financial relationships at any time. The membership, elected and appointed leadership, and members of our ethics committee are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that these principles are upheld in all we do.