CIoF under fire over handling of sexual assault allegation

Senior figures within the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) have raised concerns over the charity sector body’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Among those to criticise the Institute is consultant Claire Warner, who has resigned from the CIoF’s standards advisory board and Yorkshire regional committee over the concerns.

In resigning Warner said “never before have I been more ashamed to be associated with an organisation”.

Her resignation follows discussion on social media over the last week relating to the CIoF’s handling of allegations.

This included the revelation from Charity Equality founder Mandy Johnson that she had shared an audio recording two years ago with a CIoF director, of a woman describing being sexually assaulted at an event held by the sector body. Johnson claims the CIoF had not responded to the allegations effectively.

In addition, a group of CIoF committee chairs has written a formal letter to the sector body’s board and chief executive, expressing their concern about the handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Co-chair of the CIoF’s culture committee Dana Kohava Segal added that she “won’t rest until a new process is in place” that prioritises victims.

The CIoF had issued a public statement over the weekend saying “it cannot be overstated how seriously we take the discussions highlighted on social media” adding that “anyone affected by harassment in any form must be listened to”.

However, a fresh statement was published on Monday following concerns over this statement’s “tone and timing”.

The CIoF’s new statement said: “We know that our statement on our investigations into sexual harassment complaints in the fundraising sector was not clear enough and recognise this has caused confusion and distress, which is far from what was intended.

“The tone and timing of our response added to that for which we are truly sorry.

“The past week’s events emphasise more than ever the critical issue of women’s safety. We must do our utmost to ensure a safe environment for all fundraisers and that is something we are deeply committed to.

“When it comes to protecting the fundraising community, this includes ensuring we have robust policies for complaint handling, investigations and appropriate sanctions, and that we start from the basis of always believing someone who discloses abuse and ensuring we are able to deal with these complaints without placing further burden on the people who report it.

“A number of questions have been raised, which we are formally reviewing as a matter of priority. We will provide further clarification shortly. This includes responding to issues raised by our Group Chairs, Fellows and other members today, to whom we are very grateful.”

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