Action plan to tackle harassment, discrimination and abuse in the fundraising community

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On 25 March 2021, the Board of Trustees of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising met to give full consideration to the discussions and questions relating to sexual harassment in the fundraising community. They also considered wider aspects of harassment, race discrimination and abuse.


We approach these discussions with three principles in mind, principles we will be adopting in all our future work. They are:


In December 2020 the Board commissioned Tell Jane, an independent specialist HR consultancy, to undertake an independent review (the “Learning Review”), of the Chartered Institute’s complaints processes and handling of complaints related to sexual harassment, drawing on the details of a specific case, and asking for broad recommendations for improvement.

The full Board has taken considerable time over the last two weeks, including three meetings, to reflect on the Learning Review. These sessions included specific advice, guidance and discussion with Tell Jane and the Institute’s lawyers, Bates Wells. The Board also considered the recent scrutiny of its handling of complaints about sexual harassment, and wider issues related to racial discrimination and abuse.

The Learning review made 18 recommendations. We have accepted them all and committed to take additional action as well informed by wider feedback, best practice and legal advice.

These fall into three themes of activity – culture change, safeguarding and governance of professional standards. We set out our thematic plans below, the resources we are going to initially allocate to this work, timeframes and accountability, plus the detailed actions we will take against each recommendation of the Learning Review.

However, we know this Action Plan is not the final product. We need to refine and improve it with the support of our members and experts in specific fields. This Action Plan is just a starting point.

We also recognise that we need to align this Action Plan with the work of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and ensure that we tackle all forms of harassment, race discrimination and abuse as part our wider plans.


We will be taking a thematic approach as set out below:

i) We will set up a Culture Board to lead a long-term systemic change in culture across the fundraising community and within the Chartered Institute

All fundraisers must be safe wherever they work, network or learn. Sexual harassment, racial harassment and abuse are never acceptable, and every single instance must be treated seriously and with respect and sensitivity.

The Culture Board will set out an overarching vision for the future culture within the fundraising profession that we want to create.

Ruth Davison, incoming CEO of Refuge and Paul Amadi MBE, Chief Supporter Officer at the British Red Cross - both Fellows of the Chartered Institute - have offered to lead the set-up of this Board. They will be working closely with our Chair, Claire Rowney and Vice Chair, Carol Akiwumi MBE as well as David Mbaziira, a culture and communications consultant and member of our EDI Committee. The first step will be to agree a Terms of Reference for the Culture Board and recruit a Chair and members.

The culture change that is needed must put the safety of fundraisers, particularly women, first. Our starting point must be to always believe people who come forward. While today’s announcements are focused on sexual harassment, we know that so much more needs to be done to tackle all forms of harassment, discrimination and abuse. Only then can our profession be the inclusive one we want it to be.

We are therefore committed to a culture change across all parts of the Chartered Institute and the wider fundraising community.

It will drive the vision behind that change and ensure any process or procedure, and the training and guidance that go with them, are led by values and an ambition to deliver the change we all want to see.

The immediate task is to form this Board blending lived experience from within the fundraising community with experts from outside the sector, experienced volunteers from within the Chartered Institute with people with specific relevant expertise in creating safe and inclusive fundraising environments.

This group will have the task of challenging and disrupting our thinking; and reinventing what the culture of fundraising looks like in the future.

We will have an open recruitment process to ensure we create the strongest possible Board to take forward this work.

Members will form the majority of this Board, but we also want to bring in expert external expertise to advise us.

ii) We will set up a Safeguarding Task Group

We will build on a working group already in progress, comprising Group volunteers, Trustees and staff, to review and strengthen our approach to safeguarding within the Chartered Institute and the wider fundraising community.

This Group will ensure that actions we have set out in response to the Learning Review are delivered and that ongoing engagement with members helps us get our own approach right and then support our sector to achieve the changes we are all committed to.

The set-up of the formal Safeguarding Task Group will be led by two Trustees, Nadine Campbell and Isobel Michael, supported by one of our Fellows, Lucy Caldicott.

Their first step will be to recruit an independent Chair for the Group and agree a formal terms of reference. Our initial view is that this group should consider all types of harassment, discrimination and abuse but we will seek advice as to whether separate work should be undertaken on specific areas of discrimination, including in relation to race or sexuality.

They will also run an open process to bring on board specific expertise from our membership, Tell Jane and legal expertise as well as expert safeguarding expertise and learning from organisations such as CIPD.

Key priorities will include:

iii) We will set up a new, permanent, Professional Standards Panel

A permanent Professional Standards Panel will be set up as a matter of urgency to improve the governance arrangements in relation to our complaints and disciplinary processes.

The Panel will lead on delivering the changes needed around our policies, Code of Conduct and other actions identified as part of the work of the Safeguarding Task Group and Learning Review. This Panel will have oversight of all complaints (internal and external) and responsibility, where necessary, for forming disciplinary panels. 

Liz Tait, Chair of Standards Advisory Board will work closely with Caron Bradshaw OBE, Chief Executive of Charity Finance Group; Valerie Morton, Chartered Institute Fellow, member of our Nominations Committee, and an independent chair of NHS Appeal Panels; and David Cunningham, Member of the Fundraising Regulator Board and Chief Executive of Kids Operating Room to establish this Panel and take the lead in ensuring an Independent Chair and Panel members are appointed.

Key priorities will include:

The Panel will report formally to the Board of Trustees every quarter.


We make the commitments and decisions above with seriousness and urgency. We will resource each of them to make sure they are delivered effectively. This includes an immediate initial investment of £50k to recruit a project manager to deliver the action plan and structures set out above. Investment from Board will also ensure we can deliver the necessary changes to our policies and procedures, develop initial training and cover the costs of independent investigations.


We aim to:

At all times we will ensure we take account of the different legislative and regulatory environments in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We will:


The executive summary of the Learning Review, which is based on HR principles and best practice, is published on our website. In order not to identify individuals involved in the complaint that was used as the basis of the review we are unable to publish the report in full. The Board has committed to take action around every recommendation made by Tell Jane in their Independent Learning Review.

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If you have any questions or feedback about our actions and plans please email us at

- Dated: 26 March 2021

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