CIoF says investigation into 2014 sexual harassment complaint has been completed

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has said that an investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment against a member has been completed. 

The institute asked the consultancy Tell Jane to look into complaints of sexual harassment against against a member dating back to 2014 after an outcry on social media in March. 

It was alleged that Peter Lewis, chief executive of the membership body at the time, had failed to act on a complaint made about the matter in 2014. 

A subsequent investigation cleared Lewis of any wrongdoing, although it later emerged that a complaint had probably been made to someone at the organisation.

In a question and answer document in response to a long list of queries that went unanswered at the CIoF’s annual general meeting earlier this month, the membership body said sanctions relating to the 2014 complaint had been decided and shared with complainants. 

It said the CIoF member under investigation had been told and given 14 days to appeal, if he felt he had grounds. 

“As this process is ongoing, we cannot share more information at this stage,” the CIoF said. 

“We can, however, assure you that we are keeping all those involved updated and prioritising their wellbeing. 

“As we near the conclusion of the complaints process, we will prioritise communication with those involved on the next steps and communications about the outcome.”

The Q&A document also said there had been “clear frustration” from members over the process used to appoint Tell Jane to look into the sexual harassment complaints and examine the claim that the former chief executive had failed to act on information about the 2014 complaint. 

Members had expressed concern that the CIoF had appointed an existing contractor to carry out an independent review into matters including the actions of the institute’s former chief executive and questioned how truly independent that review might be. 

The CIoF said it appointed Tell Jane in July 219 to run a helpline service for staff, which was expanded at the end of the year to offer support for members. 

It said the agency was selected based on recommendations from within the sector and the CIoF’s own due diligence work. 

But the CIoF admitted that it did not carry out any additional due diligence work when appointing Tell Jane to handle the investigations. 

“Due to our tried and tested relationship with Tell Jane, the confidence we have in their abilities and the demonstrable experience it has in dealing with investigations, we commissioned it to undertake investigations for us this year into the complaints raised,” it said. “No additional due diligence was done.”

The CIoF also said it planned to review all of its contracts with partners after it has recruited a new head of professional conduct. 

It said the appointee would help oversee policies on safeguarding and complaint handling. It expects to launch the recruitment process for that position next week. 

“We will make sure that feedback is sought from members and people with lived experience so that when we recommission this important service or any service, we do so with the confidence of our community,” the CIoF said. 

The body also said it planned to run a member survey seeking views to help shape its future. 

It said it planned to run a series of roundtable events to decide its future strategic direction and planned to carry out work on how it can improve communication with volunteers and members. 

The CIoF also said it had appointed a new chief executive and expected to make an announcement in “the next few weeks”.

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