CIoF chair to step down early after a 'very difficult year'

Claire Rowney says she has spent much of the past year 'addressing the failings of the past and present' and that fresh leadership is needed

Claire Rowney
Claire Rowney

Claire Rowney, chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, is to step down after a year in the role. 

The institute said two other trustees, Ian Wilson and Liz Tait, would also be stepping down this year. 

Rowney, who is executive director of fundraising, marketing and communications at Macmillan Cancer Support, said in a statement today that she would step down one year into a three-year term at the CIoF’s annual general meeting on 5 July. 

She said it had been a “very difficult year” and that stepping down was the right thing for her and the organisation. 

The CIoF also said Wilson would step down at the AGM for personal reasons, while Tait had volunteered to step aside at the end of the year as part of a “commitment to continually refresh the board”. 

Rowney, who has been a CIoF trustee since 2018 and spent a year as vice-chair before becoming chair last year, said she had spent much of the past year “addressing the failings of the past and present”. 

She said: “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.”

She said the role of chair needed someone who could 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”. 

She said: “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, thanked Rowney for her “leadership and contribution to the fundraising community” in the role. 

“In the brief time that I have got to know her, I have been inspired by her vision, passion and dedication,” O'Connor said. 

The announcement comes as the CIoF faces scrutiny over its handling of sexual misconduct complaints. 

Last week, the umbrella body announced that an investigation into whether former chief executive Peter Lewis had received an allegation of sexual misconduct in 2014 had found there was “no wrongdoing” on his part.  

But the statement led to strong criticism from some CIoF members and the membership body apologised after it emerged it had failed to give advance notice to witnesses and survivors of the publication of the findings. 

Despite initially claiming that the report, which has not been published, had found that no disclosure was made to Lewis, the CIoF has since admitted the investigation was in fact “unable to find sufficient evidence” that a complaint had been made to him, but did conclude a complaint was probably made to someone at the CIoF.   

The allegations that the CIoF had ignored accusations of sexual misconduct against one of its members surfaced on Twitter in March.  

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