CIoF puts relationship with lead convention sponsor on hold over National Rifle Association links

The membership body has also ‘paused’ its commercial links with the online donations platform JustGiving because of its connections to the US-based NRA

(Photograph: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photograph: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising appears to have put on hold its relationship with its headline convention sponsor Salesforce, following concerns about the software company’s connection with the US-based National Rifle Association, it has emerged. 

The fundraising membership body has also paused its convention sponsorship relationship with online fundraising platform JustGiving over similar concerns relating to JustGiving’s parent company, Blackbaud.

Salesforce no longer appears on a list of organisations sponsoring the CIoF annual convention, which is due to take place in two weeks’ time – but had been listed as a headline sponsor of the event in a previous email to CIoF members.

The San Francisco-based news outlet SFGate reported earlier this month that at least 4,000 Salesforce employees had signed an open letter to co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Bret Taylor calling for the company to cease doing business with the NRA, which uses Salesforce products for marketing and fundraising purposes, according to the letter.

The NRA has been heavily criticised for many years over its opposition to gun control and safety proposals in the US, and faced renewed scrutiny after 19 children were killed last month in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

In a statement released to CIoF members this morning, and provided to Third Sector in response to questions about JustGiving and Blackbaud being apparently removed from its list of sponsors, Katie Docherity, chief executive of the CIoF, said the organisation had “taken the decision to pause some sponsorship relationships of Fundraising Convention”.

She said the move had been made “in light of recent news which has highlighted the business relationships that some companies have through their group structures in the US with the National Rifle Association, which has resisted calls to restrict access to firearms, despite the tragedy of mass shootings in the nation”.

The statement did not directly name any of the companies involved, but came after many fundraisers had expressed anger over a report by news website TechCrunch that Blackbaud had taken tens of thousands of dollars in fees from the NRA.

Salesforce was only announced as headline sponsor of the event on 10 June.

When asked whether Salesforce was also among the companies referred to by Docherty, a CIoF spokesperson said the organisation would not be commenting beyond the statement.

In the statement, Docherty described the sponsors in question as “long-standing partners and valued suppliers to the fundraising community”, but said the pause would “give us time to review the situation in detail, as well as to engage members in discussions about collaborations and how we navigate these challenging issues together”.

Salesforce has been approached for comment.

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