Institute apologises for its response to claims it ignored sexual assault complaint

But Chartered Institute of Fundraising committee chairs call for the membership body to explain itself further

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has apologised for its response to allegations that it ignored a sexual assault complaint – but its own committee chairs are calling for the body to explain itself further.

Yesterday, a group of CIoF committee chairs wrote to the membership body’s leadership expressing concerns about its handling of allegations that it ignored a complaint of sexual assault. 

The group has now called for the CIoF to meet it as soon as possible to discuss the issue “in detail”.

The CIoF first came under fire on Friday on Twitter when the fundraising consultant Mandy Johnson tweeted that, two years, ago she had shared an audio recording with the institute in which a woman described being sexually assaulted at a CIoF event, and said that her report of the incident had been ignored.

The CIoF’s initial response, published on its website on Friday and later updated, was criticised by many fundraisers on Twitter, one of whom described it as “thoroughly underwhelming”, and prompted the letter from the committee chairs. 

In a statement issued yesterday evening,  the CIoF said: “We know that our statement on our investigations into sexual harassment complaints in the fundraising sector was not clear enough and recognise this has caused confusion and distress, which is far from what was intended. 

“The tone and timing of our response added to that, for which we are truly sorry.”

The statement went on to say the CIoF was committed to doing its “utmost to ensure a safe environment for all fundraisers”, which it said meant “ensuring we have robust policies for complaint handling, investigations and appropriate sanctions, and that we start from the basis of always believing someone who discloses abuse”.

It went on to say it was “formally reviewing” the questions and complaints that had been raised following its initial response, including from the group chairs, as a matter of priority, and would provide further clarification shortly.

But acknowledging the most recent statement, Dana Kohava Segal, co-chair of the CIoF’s Cultural Sector Committee and one of the group chairs who sent the letter, tweeted: “We are pushing for a meeting ASAP between all chairs and CIOF staff to discuss the reply in more detail. We will keep you all updated.” 

Third Sector understands members from a range of CIoF committees have resigned over the issue. 

After Johnson’s initial tweet on Friday, the fundraising consultant Claire Warner publicly resigned from the CIoF’s Standards Advisory Board and its Yorkshire Regional Committee.  

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