Chartered Institute of Fundraising outlines next steps following sexual assault complaints

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has set out its next steps in how it responds to sexual harassment complaints following criticism of its initial response.

In a statement, the board of trustees said it wanted to "apologise to the women who have been let down by the CIoF" and that it has accepted 18 recommendations made in an independent learning review.

A review was conducted by Tell Jane, a HR consultancy, after complaints were made about the way the CIoF handled complaints made to senior leaders about allegations of sexual assault.

The CIoF has pledged to take action on a number of issues raised by Tell Jane, and has set out principles it plans to adopt in its future work.

“As a Board of Trustees, we want to apologise to the women who have been let down by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising and to everyone who has been upset, frustrated, and angry in relation to reports of sexual harassment,” the board said.

“Raising concerns takes courage, and those who do so deserve to be taken seriously and treated with respect and sensitivity. We will do better in how we respond to those who come forward. We will admit to mistakes, apologise for them and share that learning openly.

“We know the organisation has a long way to go and that we are only a few steps into our journey. Our ambition is to create a culture where everyone is not just safe, but able to truly thrive. This will take hard work, and we promise you that we are ready for this.”

The Institute has pledged to set up a Culture Board, to drive systemic change in culture across the fundraising community; a Safeguarding Task Group to ensure changes are delivered; and a Professional Standards Panel, led by an independent chair, with oversight of every part of the complaints and disciplinary process.

The board said one of the ‘key actions’ it is taking is to improve the governance of its complaints and disciplinary processes.

“We will move all investigation responsibilities currently with the chief executive, senior staff and trustees to a new Safeguarding and Complaints Manager supported by independent specialist investigators," the board added.

"All investigations will now be fully independent, and operational management of all complaints will sit with the Safeguarding and Complaints Manager."

‘An urgency to deliver’

The CIoF’s action plan follows two weeks of criticism around the way it previously handled its response to allegations of sexual assault.

Earlier this week, a social media row among leaders escalated, following the sector body’s announcement that its chief executive, Peter Lewis, is to step down.

The CIoF announced this week that chief executive Lewis is stepping down from the role. However, this announcement failed to mention concerns around the CIoF’s handling of sexual assault allegations that have emerged over the last two weeks.

Criticism of the CIoF had come from the body’s own committee chairs and members. In addition, Charity Equality founder Mandy Johnson had alleged that a sexual assault complaint at a CIoF event was not 'swiftly or effectively' dealt with.

In response, the CIoF said it understands there is ‘an urgency to deliver’ the changes and it has accepted offers of leadership and support from peers, committee members and other sector experts.

It said a wider group of people will be involved in running 'open processes' for members within three months.

“Our announcement today outlines the specific next steps we are taking to turn our ambitions into reality. While today’s announcements are focused on sexual harassment, we know that so much more needs to be done to tackle all forms of harassment, discrimination and abuse. Only then can our profession be the inclusive one we want it to be," the board added.

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