Five priorities for scandal-hit CIoF to address

A charity sector think tank founder has issued a five-point list of priorities for the Chartered Institute of Fundraising to enact as it looks to overcome the sexual misconduct complaints handling scandal that has blighted the organisation this year.

The CIoF has been rocked by allegations that it has failed to effectively address sexual misconduct complaints. Amid the scandal both its chief executive, Peter Lewis, and chair, Claire Rowney, announced their resignations.

Rowney said in her resignation statement that she has been spent “much of the time addressing failings of the past and present and not being able to move the sector or the organisation forward in the way I had hoped”.

Ahead of the appointment of new, permanent leadership, think tank nfpSynergy founder Joe Saxton has laid out the five key priorities for the organisation as the CIoF looks to focus on supporting fundraising in the charity sector.

Make fundraising safe

Among priorities is to “make fundraising safe for everyone”, says Saxton.

“The ongoing news about the IoF’s recent investigation into cases of sexual harassment only reinforces how important it is to get this right,” he says.

He warns that fundraising “has an environment which is a fertile breeding ground for harassment and oppression” a raft of junior female fundraisers and senior male fundraisers”.

“Fundraising needs to change to become more of a meritocracy, but also to take proactive steps to stop a culture where sexual harassment can so easily flourish. I have no doubt things are better since I started in fundraising over 30 years ago – but they still have a long, long way to go,” he adds.

Reflect diversity

The new permanent chair needs to reflect diversity in fundraising, says Saxton.

Too often the role is filled with directors of fundraising from established, large charities, such as Macmillan, NSPCC and Cancer Research UK. Because those in such roles are male, female and not all white, “it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security on diversity”, says Saxton.

“But being a director of fundraising at a large charity gives people a very distinct and narrow view of the fundraising world – and that cannot be helpful,” he adds.

Don’t be blinded by Chartered status

The CIoF needs to spend less time and energy around its chartered status. This makes “no impact on public perceptions”, says Saxton.

“Sadly, the Institute seems to believe its own propaganda and somehow thinks being Chartered will solve all the public perception problems of fundraising. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he says.

“The Institute needs to make changing public perceptions at the heart of its work going forward.”

Focus on income generation

Saxton also believes the CIoF should focus on “income generation not fundraising”. nfpSynergy predicting that the proportion of charity income from donations will fall over the next 20 years.

“The danger is that the Institute has painted itself into a corner by only being about fundraising, and not about income generation,” he warns.

Be inspiring

Fundraising has also been subject to a number of challenges in recent years. This includes data protection legislation to ensure the privacy of donors, regulation around door-to-door fundraising and the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

“The Institute needs to identify a path through these rocky waters,” says Saxton.

He adds: “Above all, it needs to give charities the confidence that fundraising will continue to be a rocket fuel that makes charities able to change the world.”

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