Consultant quits Chartered Institute of Fundraising standards board over claim it ignored sexual assault allegation

A fundraising consultant has resigned from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Standards Advisory Board over claims that the membership body failed to act on an allegation of sexual assault at one of its events. 

Claire Warner made her resignation publicly in a tweet in which she also stepped down from the CIoF’s Yorkshire Regional Committee.

Her statement was in response to a tweet by the fundraising consultant Mandy Johnson, who said that two years ago, “in a minuted meeting” with “a director” at the CIoF, “I shared an audio recording of a woman describing being sexually assaulted at a CIoF event”.

The CIoF said an investigation had concluded that no allegation had been made and it treated “every single complaint with the highest level of importance, consideration and confidentiality”. 

The CIoF also revealed there was a second investigation into a seperate allegation of sexual assault that was ongoing, and that the organisation had commissioned an independent review of its complaints processes.

Johnson’s tweet went on to say that two years later, she was “still using informal networks to stop the perpetrator (a CIOF fellow) mentoring young fundraisers”. 

She also shared what she described as an extract from minutes of the meeting, which noted that the recording had included the survivor relating that they had been assaulted, naming the perpetrator, and claiming that they had previously reported the incident but “nothing happened” in response.

Warner said in her tweet: “Dear @CIOFtweets, please accept this tweet as my formal resignation from your Standards Advisory Board and from your Yorkshire Regional Committee. Never before have I been more ashamed to be associated with an organisation.”

In a statement on its website on Friday afternoon,  the CIoF said: “Anyone affected by harassment in any form must be listened to.

“While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we can confirm that we treat every single complaint with the highest level of importance, consideration and confidentiality, no matter how many we receive or whom they concern.”

Referring to the case involving the audio recording, the statement said: “While we wouldn’t normally comment on a complaint where the outcome didn’t result in a sanction, we think it important to place on record that an investigation concluded that no allegation had been made.

It went on to say that another complaint had been referenced online, and that was “a current investigation, about which we cannot comment”. 

However, it said: “We can confirm that when a serious complaint is made against a member we will suspend their membership while we investigate that complaint.”

The statement also revealed the CIoF had commissioned an independent review “to look at the effectiveness of our complaints policies and procedures since they were updated in 2019”, which was conducted by the support service Tell Jane.

“We will be sharing our learning and next steps with members and with the wider community once the board has had an opportunity to discuss it,” the statement said. 

It added: “We continue to actively encourage anyone to come forward to report their experience of any inappropriate behaviour by a member of the Chartered Institute or at a Chartered Institute event, no matter when the incident happened.”

It added that an independent helpline provided by Tell Jane would offer confidential support for anyone seeking to understand how their complaint would be handled, and could be contacted on 0800 689 0843.

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