Charity leaders embroiled in social media dispute over CIoF complaints scandal

A social media row surrounding the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF)’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints has escalated further, following the sector body’s announcement that its chief executive is to step down.

The CIoF announced this week that chief executive Peter 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.

Following the CIoF’s announcement of Lewis’s departure, the row escalated again this week, with Johnson becoming embroiled in an argument on Twitter with ACEVO’s chief executive Vicky Browning.

Browning had posted that Lewis and the CIoF had “made real progress in addressing difficult issues in the sector”.

But Johnson claimed this praise for Lewis from Browning amid the current concerns of the way CIoF handles abuse complaints was “triggering” for victims. In a further email, to ACEVO head of policy Kristiana Wrixon, Johnson said that Browning’s comments had made victims of abuse “feel gaslit”.

The CIoF’s announcement of Lewis’ departure has also been criticised by Robin Peake, director of supporters at the charity Wycliffe UK.

Peake accused the CIoF have failing “the basics of leadership” and that “victims of harassment still need answers”.

Co-chair of the CIoF’s culture committee Dana Kohava Segal has also raised concerns that the sector body failed to acknowledge the recent complaints handling concerns in announcing Lewis’s decision to step down.

Meanwhile, Charity Finance Group chief executive Caron Bradshaw has said she is “deeply troubled” by the recent concerns, as someone who has suffered from sexual harassment and bullying.

She said that it is “essential” that people are believed when raising complaints.

Last week CIoF chair Claire Rowney said that a “seismic shift” in safeguarding culture at the sector body is needed.

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