The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) has expelled a member after finding that their conduct amounted to sexual harassment.
The report on investigations into a member of the CIoF has concluded that the member breached the organisation’s Code of Conduct as the behaviour was found to be sexual harassment as defined under the Equality Act 2010.
The individual has been permanently expelled as a member, removed as a fellow of the CIoF, and banned from all future CIoF events.
The organisation shared an open letter to members from Nadine Campbell, interim chair of the CIoF, outlining the findings of the report, which also identified “significant organisational failures”.
Tell Jane, the HR consultancy which has been working with the CIoF since 2019, will no longer carry out investigations on behalf of the CIoF, “with the two organisations having agreed to an amicable parting of ways”.
The report states that Tell Jane has been “disappointed” with how the CIoF has handled the process, adding that “an aspect of this is the communication with the survivors and the lack of support provided from the outset of the investigation until this was addressed in June 2021”.
Tell Jane will continue to offer its helpline function until the CIoF has found an alternative supplier.
The investigation found that the member’s conduct in relation to each of the allegations “is likely to have taken place and to have amounted to sexual harassment”.
The report finds that allegations were not acted upon at the time they were made.
This meant individuals involved were able to continue to participate in events, activities and training.
The investigation identified that in addition to the complaint about an incident of sexual harassment at Fundraising Convention 2014, complaints and concerns had been raised about this member’s behaviour over many years by group event participants.
Chairs of the relevant groups were aware of these concerns, and some had spoken to the member about his conduct.
“The board takes full responsibility and apologises for the clear organisational and governance failings in our culture and processes that let down survivors,” the report states.
Some of the organisational failures include the focus on requiring a formal written complaint, “which made it very difficult for anyone who had experienced harassment, discrimination or bullying to raise concerns and did not provide a safe, simple and supportive process”.
Indeed, significant failings were found in the CIoF’s processes in 2019 when an anonymous allegation of sexual harassment in Fundraising Magazine prompted a third party to play a recorded testimony of the survivor to two members of staff.
The CIoF should have investigated the incident of sexual harassment described in the testimony and “not have relied on someone coming forward to formally complain or submit the complaint in writing”.
The investigation into sexual harassment states that there was a “consistent theme” that when complaints were raised, the response was that no formal complaint had been made or no one had come forward.
Others failings include “the lack of action in response to repeated patterns of behaviour”, reported over time by more than one individual, and a lack of appropriate training embedded across the organisation on how to respond to reports about harassment.
Board to launch new independent review
The report reveals that the board is commissioning a new independent review, which will include evidence that is now available from the main investigation, into complaints of sexual harassment not being acted upon appropriately over time by the CIoF.
It had previously commissioned an investigation into a complaint that the former chief executive, Peter Lewis, and the CIoF did not act on an allegation of sexual harassment in 2014.
The board apologised for the wording of the statement made in June 2021, which found that there was “no wrongdoing by Peter Lewis”.
“As chief executive during the relevant period, he bears responsibility, along with trustees and the staff involved, for not taking action sooner in tackling the cultural and organisational failings,” Campbell’s letter reads.
There was a failure to contact the women involved ahead of making this statement, and the report states: “We recognise that by making that statement before completion of the overall investigation, we gave the wrong impression and caused hurt and distress. We understand that we should have waited for both investigations to conclude before providing any public statement.”
The letter states that the board now feels there “was not sufficient evidence available at the time” to conclusively determine what happened.
“All evidence from the specific 2014 investigation and further evidence that is now available from the main investigation will be passed to the wider independent review being commissioned by the Chartered Institute for new consideration,” the report says.
“This new independent review will focus on the wider issue of concerns, reports and complaints of sexual harassment not being acted upon appropriately over time by the CIoF. More details of this review will be made available as soon as possible,” it adds.
The independent review will make recommendations to the board, new chief executive and head of professional conduct. Its findings will be shared directly with members and published on the website.
The letter states that the CIoF is “committed to change and taking the actions needed to address the failings set out in the report”.
These include a new central screening process with the aim to ensure that anyone who has been suspended or expelled due to an investigation cannot participate as a speaker or delegate, as well as recruitment for a new head of professional conduct.
The board also now has a safeguarding and whistleblowing trustee with oversight of the complaints process and safeguarding work, and the report recommends ensuring that there are alternative means of reporting concerns to mitigate issues occurring from conflicts of interest.
The open letter adds that the organisation will have new leadership this year.
This leadership will involve survivors, because “for behaviours and culture to really change, we know that those with lived experience must be a part of the conversation”.
Two people involved in the process responded shortly after the CIoF published its statement.
Beth Upton, a fundraising consultant and CIoF fellow, said she continues to feel let down by the organisation.
Response to Chartered Institute of Fundraising report 26th August 2021— Beth Upton (@Beth_Upton) August 26, 2021
Upton called on the CIoF to remove any involvement by trustees, members of sub-committees of the board, groups, volunteers or staff in both the drawing up of terms of reference” for the new review and choosing who undertakes the review.
She added: “Moving past the failure against me, the statement lacks any tangibility to allow members to hold their professional body’s leadership to account.”
Mandy Johnson, a former chair of the CIoF London committee, said in a statement posted on LinkedIn: “I am relieved to know that the latest version of the CIoF’s policies and processes has held one of its members to account for what he has done to women at their events. I hope that this is the start of sexual predators no longer being welcome within the fundraising sector and its Chartered Institute.
“Getting to this point has been a long and gruelling experience for many victims, survivors and allies…and we are still not at the finish line. CIoF has announced yet another independent review. This is both needed and appreciated, not only so that complaints against the previous CEO can be investigated but also so that people can feel safe attending CIoF events.”
However, she said the prospect of this review was also “exhausting” for people who will need to relive their experiences again.
Johnson added that given recent failings: “I feel it would be naive of me to blindly trust that the next independent review won’t follow the same path.”
She concluded: “I hope that the CIoF will become the organisation we want it to be. If not, I know the fundraising community will find other ways to work together in a safe and positive way.”