An independent review into the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s response to sexual harassment complaints has been delayed due to there being “more work involved than was originally anticipated”, the membership body has said.
Writing in a blog on CIoF’s website, chief executive Katie Docherty said the review remained the “top priority” for her, the organisation’s trustees, staff and volunteers.
But she said more time was needed to ensure the review, which an independent consultancy began in March, would be “fully comprehensive and extensive”.
Docherty also said the CIoF would hold a series of meetings in the coming months to explain some of the improvements it has made recently, which the body said it had “not effectively communicated” so far.
And after criticism of the CIoF’s decision to run its upcoming convention as an in-person only event, Docherty said the body would run a separate Fundraising Festival online and it would be freely available to those who signed up to the convention.
‘We must create meaningful cultural change’
The CIoF announced last year that it had commissioned an independent review into its failure to respond appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment over time.
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”.
Docherty began as chief executive in October and the current review started in March. While the completion date for the review has been delayed, Docherty said staff were keen to ensure it leads to “cultural change”.
“I’ve seen first-hand how our staff team have fully embraced this, and I am very proud of how committed they are to keeping our community safe,” she said.
“It’s a privilege to work in this sector, and it is all our responsibility to make sure this cultural change is embedded across everything that we do. It’s not enough to change policies and procedures – we need to ensure that we create meaningful cultural change.”
‘We understand some members prefer online events’
Earlier this month, domestic abuse charity Refuge quit the CIoF, citing its decision to hold its annual Fundraising Convention in-person only as one of the reasons.
Docherty said the CIoF “explored delivering a hybrid model” but decided that it could offer the “best experience possible” for members, “within our resources and without compromising quality”, by offering separate in-person and online events.
Alongside the convention, the CIoF will offer an online Fundraising Festival, which will include 25 sessions recorded from the in-person convention as well as additional content created specifically for the online event.
Those attending the in-person convention will be able to access the Fundraising Festival for free and it will be “accessibly priced” for those attending the online-only event.
Meetings to share progress
Docherty said the CIoF had been undertaking “a huge amount of work” in the background, which it had “not effectively communicated”.
To address this, the organisation will hold a series of all-member meetings where it will share “what we’ve been doing and give our members an opportunity to ask questions to us directly”.
The first of these will be on 16 June about Fundraising Convention, in which members will be able to ask questions to Docherty and Paul Laird, the CIoF’s director of learning and volunteering.