Refuge quits fundraising organisation citing ongoing concerns around women’s safety

Refuge and its chief executive Ruth Davison have severed links with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) due to ongoing concerns over the safety of women following a sexual misconduct scandal to hit the sector organisation last year.

Davison has resigned her fellowship of the CIoF, while Refuge has quit as an organisational member.

The decisions have been “supported unanimously by Refuge’s fundraising leadership team as well as our Chair of Trustees”, said the charity.

In a statement Davison said: “As an organisation which addresses domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, it is entirely incompatible with our values to remain members of an Institute who are not taking action to ensure it keeps women safe.”

Last year the CIoF was accused of failing to effectively deal with sexual misconduct complaints. It also garnered further criticism from members over its responses to concerns, this included being accused of “gaslighting” victims.

The CIoF changed leadership last year, appointing Katie Docherty as chief executive. It also upheld four allegations of sexual harassment by one of its fellows and apologised to survivors for its handling of the situation.

But Refuge remains concerned about “the institute’s culture”, added Davison.

She said that “even under new leadership there appears to be no organisational desire to meaningfully change”.

A particular concern is ensuring the sector body’s training and development are inclusive and “allow a far wider and more diverse group of fundraisers, as well as those who no longer feel safe to attend events in person, to benefit from training and development”, said Davison.

She added: “Fundraising is a profession full of young women who deserve to be safe at events and not to have their access to training and development limited or compromised by an organisation which refuses to take their needs seriously.

“By being unable to offer adequate assurances that it is trying to change, I am left with no choice but to resign my Fellowship. I am proud that my talented Fundraising Department has also chosen to resign our organisational membership. Sadly, the Institute’s values have moved too far from values that Refuge and I work to uphold within our profession.”

Last week virtual events platform, Fundraising Everywhere, announced it will not work with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising on its annual fundraising convention accusing the body of “taking advantage” without making improvements to access.

In response to Refuge and Davison’s decision Docherty said: “Our members and volunteers are the lifeblood of our charity, which is why it is particularly sad when respected colleagues step away.

"We wholeheartedly agree that fundraisers need to learn in the most safe and inclusive environment. This is why we have, over the last 12 months, introduced a significant range of measures to do this including mandatory safeguarding training for all staff and volunteers, and a code of behaviours that all event attendees must agree to.

“Our Academy training is now delivered all online and we look forward to a hosting a range of in-person and virtual events throughout the coming year, ensuring that we will train and support more professional fundraisers this year than ever before."

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