The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) has announced the creation of a taskforce to address sexual harassment in the sector and to look at what changes the membership body itself should make.
In recent weeks there has been widespread concern about the amount of sexual harassment experienced by young female fundraisers, following an article by Ruby Bayley-Pratt in Fundraising Magazine, published by Civil Society Media.
The taskforce will be led by two IoF trustees, Claire Rowney and Isobel Michael. Bayley-Pratt, who is fundraising policy and research manager at the British Red Cross, will also be involved, as will an HR and legal expert.
The group will look at how the IoF’s Code of Conduct could be strengthened and whether its existing complaints procedure is fit for purpose.
The terms of reference and membership of the taskforce will be finalised and published as soon as the group has met.
‘Sexual harassment has no place in fundraising’
In a statement, Amanda Bringans, chair of the IoF, said: “There is no place for sexual or any other form of harassment within our fundraising community. We have been listening to the recent anonymous testimonials of sexual harassment in the fundraising sector collected by Ruby Bayley-Pratt.
“We want to actively encourage people to come forward and report complaints if they have experienced sexual harassment by a member of the Institute or at an institute event, no matter when that incident happened. Those incidents will be investigated fully, even if the person complained of resigns their membership of the institute.”
She added: “Fundraising is a profession for everyone. We do brilliant things that raise vital funds for good causes. All this should be done in a safe and respectful environment.
“We will work to clamp down on unacceptable behaviour and ensure our fundraising community is a safe space for everyone.”
'An encouraging step'
Bayley-Pratt said she was encouraged by the announcement but that the IoF must now “walk the walk”.
“It’s really encouraging to see the IOF respond so quickly and with such a strong zero-tolerance position; particularly with regards to historical cases and the expectations it has of its own members and fellows,” she said.
“This issue and it’s prevalence can be a scary thing to face up to. The IoF must not fear rocking the boat. The important thing now is to ensure that it walks the walk on this zero-tolerance position and I am pleased to be working with the Task Force to help them do so.
“Historically, the hurdle to reporting these types of incidents to the Institute through its current channels has been the inability to do so anonymously and I’m particularly keen that we look at how we can overcome this.
“I am also looking forward to continuing to work with the amazing women and other allies who have come forward with their stories to do what we can to address the issue on a cultural level in our sector. My priority is maintaining focus on that action which is going to achieve the most change and, above all, protecting the people who have come forward with their stories.”