The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has pledged to set up a new panel with an independent chair to oversee its complaints and disciplinary process as part of an overhaul of how it handles serious allegations against members.
The membership body has been under public pressure over the past couple of weeks from high-profile fundraisers after it was claimed that it ignored a complaint of sexual assault that allegedly took place at one of its events.
The institute said in a statement today that its board had last night agreed to a series of measures aimed to put the organisation back on the right track.
It said that in December, it had commissioned the consultancy Tell Jane to conduct an audit of its complaints process after the end of a disciplinary process against a member, the outcome of which has not been made public.
The CIoF said today its board had agreed to accept all 18 recommendations made in Tell Jane’s report and added others in an attempt to ensure it oversees a culture that is safe for all.
It said a new Professional Standards Panel, led by an independent chair, would be set up to have oversight of every part of the CIoF’s complaints and disciplinary process.
The panel would have responsibilities from setting the code of conduct to having oversight of all complaints.
The membership body said its chief executive and senior staff and trustees would no longer bear responsibility for investigations, which would be handed to a new safeguarding and complaints manager, backed by independent specialist investigators.
It said it would set up a new Culture Board to “lead a long-term systemic change in culture across the fundraising community and within the Chartered Institute”.
And it pledged to establish a Safeguarding Task Group to ensure the changes it had committed to would be delivered.
The CIoF said it would adopt the principle that it would “believe all those who come forward” and make the system safe, simple and supportive for people who come forward, backed by a process that is fair and balanced.
It also said that over the next three months it would review historic complaints that were not investigated because complainants did not wish to make a formal complaint, or put it in writing, to assess whether any further action is required.
The board statement said trustees wanted to apologise to the women who had been let down by the institute and everyone who had been upset, frustrated and angry in relation to reports of sexual harassment.
“Raising concerns takes courage, and those who do so deserve to be taken seriously and treated with respect and sensitivity,” it said.
“We will do better in how we respond to those who come forward. We will admit to mistakes, apologise for them and share that learning openly.”
The board said it planned to bring all necessary decisions to its annual general meeting in July so that changes to its complaints and disciplinary regulations could be made by August.