Claire Rowney to step down as chair of the CIoF to make way for 'fresh leadership'

17 Jun 2021 News

Claire Rowney, chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising

Claire Rowney will resign as chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) at the upcoming AGM after a just a year in the role to make way for “fresh leadership”. 

Over the last few days the CIoF has faced renewed criticism over its handling of sexual harassment allegations.

The membership body had announced the outcome of report from HR company Tell Jane, which cleared the CIoF’s former chief executive, Peter Lewis, of wrongdoing. But it later admitted that it had not told those who had taken part in the investigation that an announcement was being made. 

Trustees issued a statement saying they “completely and unreservedly” apologised for failing to contact those involved in its recent investigation ahead of making the outcome public.

Two other trustees will also be leaving the board in the coming months. 

Ian Wilson will also step down from the board at the AGM “for personal reasons” and trustee Liz Tait has volunteered to step down at the end of the year.

Wilson is deputy chief executive and executive director of fundraising and communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK. He had joined the board in March. 

Tait is the director of fundraising at Great Ormond Street Hospital charity and was chair of the Fundraising Convention Board from 2015 to 2017 and chaired the Standards Advisory Board. She has been a trustee of the CIoF since 2016. 

Rowney stepping down to make way for ‘fresh leadership’

Rowney is leaving after three years at the CIoF, where she has been a trustee, vice-chair, and chair.

She is the executive director of fundraising, communications and marketing at Macmillan and became chair of the CIoF 2020. She will remain in post until the AGM on 5 July.

In a statement she said she was leaving to enable “fresh leadership” to make necessary changes.

“I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for the hurt and disappointment that victims of harassment and abuse have had to endure and for any mistakes that happened during my time at the Chartered Institute,” she said.

Rowney said: “After three years as a trustee, vice-chair and most recently chair, I hope in small part I have made a positive contribution to the Chartered Institute as a proud fundraiser. I became a trustee to help a sector I love and to celebrate and promote the dynamic and powerful collective we are. 

“However, it has been a very difficult year as chair, spending much of the time addressing failings of the past and present and not being able to move the sector or the organisation forward in the way I had hoped. So it’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to step down and make way for a new chair, which I believe is the right thing to do both for the organisation and for me personally.  

“Currently, the role of chair at the Chartered Institute needs someone who can dedicate more time to drive the change that is so badly needed and it is with regret that I have come to realise that individual is not me. Fresh leadership both on the executive team and board of trustees will enable the organisation to finally move forward and I hope that by stepping away this new leadership will come forward and make the Chartered Institute a professional body the fundraising community can be proud of.

“I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for the hurt and disappointment that victims of harassment and abuse have had to endure and for any mistakes that happened during my time at the Chartered Institute. I am, and always will be, a passionate advocate for women in fundraising and I want every single woman affected by this to know that I believe them and am here to support them.”

Dhivya O’Connor, interim chief executive of the CIoF, said: “On behalf of the Chartered Institute, I would like to thank Claire for her leadership and contribution to the fundraising community in this role. In the brief time that I have got to know her, I have been inspired by her vision, passion and dedication.”

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