CIoF appoints head of professional conduct following sexual harassment allegations

05 Jul 2022 News

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) has taken measures to improve how it tackles sexual harassment, as investigations into complaints at the organisation continue.

CIoF announced at its annual fundraising convention yesterday that it has appointed a head of professional conduct and began using a new tool for staff to report harassment.

But the organisation was criticised for using sexual innuendos in the titles of two of its sessions at the convention and subsequently renamed them both.

Head of professional conduct appointed

CIoF’s annual fundraising convention began yesterday with interim chair Nadine Campbell introducing new head of professional conduct Michelle Welch to the audience. 

Campbell said: “Michelle joined us a few months ago and Michelle is very passionate. We've released a blog a couple of days ago about safeguarding and what we've done. Safeguarding is a big important issue and as a fundraising community, we want our profession and our organisations to be exhibiting the values we share.

“It's not as simple as trying to find one right answer, but reflecting on our journey and where we want to go and sometimes hearing from others about their journey is the best way to spark ideas and get us moving.”

Welch began her role in May after a career in social work. Part of her responsibility is the operational management of complaints.

The news comes after an independent investigation into complaints at CIoF was launched in March. The review’s findings have since been delayed after there being “more work involved than was originally anticipated.” 

New tool for reporting workplace harassment

CIoF began using a new harassment reporting service, Talk to Spot, at its organisation last week. 

A CIoF spokesperson told Civil Society News that prior to this, “anyone could make a complaint to the CIOF through our complaints process, and would have been able to do so anonymously.”

Co-founder of the new tool, Dr Julia Shaw, joined Campbell to discuss it at the start of CIoF’s fundraising convention. 

It allows people to report instances of harassment anonymously. Organisations that work with Spot are committed to responding to a report within 10 days. 

Shaw said: “If you have a system like Spot, you can report something, even if it's small initially, because you don't know how many other people have been experiencing something similar. And what Spot allows you to do is to submit it anonymously.”

Shaw said the tool can help organisations identify patterns in who is being reported.

As someone who has used the service herself, Shaw explained that the “psychological benefit” of reporting something that made you feel uncomfortable at work “is incredible because it allows you somewhere to put all this feeling, which can then be turned into an action.”

CIoF changes session names over ‘inappropriate’ sexual innuendos

Despite the work CIoF has been doing to improve how it tackles harassment, it has come under fire after sessions at its fundraising convention had sexual connotations. 

The CIoF’s code of behaviour for training and events states: “All must refrain from improper language or conduct. Examples of sexual harassment include sexual innuendo.”

However, Twitter users were quick to point out that two session names were in fact innuendos: "It's not the size that counts" and "Friends with benefits". CIoF has since changed the names of these sessions. 

Fundraising consultant Beth Upton said that these session titles were “inappropriate” and that “this isn't good enough.”

Founder of CharityEquality, Mandy Johnson, said: “I thought this was an “interesting” choice of title to present at an event which is still going through an independent investigation for the sexual assaults that have happened at previous conventions and other CIOF events. 

“Maybe spare a thought for the survivors next time?”

Katie Docherty, CEO of CIoF, thanked a Twitter user for bringing up the issue and said that the session title has now been changed.

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