CIoF response to sexual harassment claims has been 'reactive and defensive', fellows say

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s response to the claims it failed to act on sexual harassment allegations has been “reactive and defensive”, according to a group of influential fundraisers.

A tweet from Lucy Caldicott, founder of the social justice consultancy ChangeOut and a fellow of the CIoF, said she and a small group of fellows had met Peter Lewis and Claire Rowney, chief executive and chair of the institute respectively, earlier this week to discuss concerns about its handling of safeguarding issues.

Notes about the meeting, published by Caldicott, say the fellows arranged the meeting to “offer constructive challenge and practical expertise”.

The notes say the fellows were “encouraged by how seriously the matter is being taken”.

But the notes say: “It was agreed that the response from CIoF has been reactive and defensive.

“This needs to change to a humble and learning approach with a goal of being thought leaders and proactively driving change in the related areas of sexual harassment and bullying.”

The notes say: “It was clearly acknowledged that there have been some serious process failures and errors.”

They say Lewis outlined their next steps, which were due to be confirmed by the CIoF board yesterday and made public today.

“It is clear that in an environment where there are structural issues that led to women being unsafe, women have been let down by cultural, process and governance weaknesses within CIoF,” the notes say.

“It was agreed that these needed to be addressed urgently to create a safe sector.”

The group of fellows included Paul Amadi, chief supporter officer at the British Red Cross and a former chair of the institute; Ruth Davison, who is set to leave Comic Relief to become chief executive of Refuge; the fundraising consultant Darly Upsall; and Sufina Ahmad, director of the John Ellerman Foundation.

“The fellows were clear that, even in a context of a smaller team and constrained resources at CIoF, investing into keeping people safe has to be a top priority,” the notes also say.

The institute has about 80 fellows, whom it has recognised for making a substantial contribution to fundraising above and beyond their day job.

Asked to comment on the notes, a CIoF spokesperson highlighted comments already made by Lewis and Rowney.

Rowney had said the CIoF needed a “seismic shift in the whole culture” and that she was committed to bring about “long overdue change”.

Lewis announced earlier this week that he had handed in his resignation about a week before some CIoF members began raising concerns about the membership body’s handling of claims of sexual harassment at its events.

His departure date is yet to be announced.

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