Plans to create safe spaces in fundraising

23 September 2022
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Misconduct disclosure scheme

Following our member webinar on safeguarding, our Head of Professional Conduct Michele Welch shares the changes we have made so far and further plans to create safe spaces in fundraising.

I've been working at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising as the Head of Professional Conduct for nearly five months. The first few months were spent learning about the organisation and my coworkers, conducting research, and analysing data with the goal of developing a dependable, anonymous reporting system in time for Convention 2022, to facilitate and encourage people to report problems and concerns. I want to share an overview of what we have done so far and where we need to focus our attention over the coming months.  

Reflecting on the changes so far

Last week at the Safeguarding Member Webinar, which you can access through your account on the top right, then view Member Benefits. Isobel Michael, our Safeguarding and Whistleblowing Trustee, started by sharing a reminder of the agreed actions from the Learning Review in 2021 and explained what outcomes we have achieved over the last 12 months. These include my appointment as Head of Professional Conduct, the revised complaints policy and procedure, and our new anonymous reporting tool, Spot. Isobel also identified ongoing actions and the need for further development, notably further work required to develop the Professional Conduct Committee, which I will be addressing over the coming months.  

It was very encouraging to hear from Paul Laird, Director of Learning and Volunteering, who shared more details about the ‘Six Measures’ and how Chartered Institute staff and volunteers are working together to guarantee our events and training are safe spaces. I am looking forward to supporting our ongoing volunteer training and getting the chance to meet those who give their valuable time, experience and energy to the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.  

I had the opportunity to provide an update on our reporting and case management system Spot, which is proving an effective tool and we are about to launch into our second stage of implementation where we will be delivering anti-harassment to our staff, board and volunteers. This training will focus on reducing bias and promoting respect. I’m especially excited to be personally delivering this training and look forward to meeting many of our staff and volunteers during this time. We remain committed to hearing your feedback and encourage you to share with us via Spot (where you can remain anonymous if you wish) or directly to me at  

Remembering the wise words of Dr Julia Shaw, the founder of Spot - our focus is to recognise our mistakes, encourage conversations and nurture a positive culture of change. It is my belief that change occurs from within and so supporting our staff, volunteers and of course our members to speak up and share views is imperative to me.  

Katie Docherty, our CEO, shared with us an update on the partnership with The Directory of Social Change, stop sexual harassment in fundraising. Sexual harassment needs to be addressed effectively and to do so requires research to explore the nature and extent of the problem. We will continue to work hard to secure the necessary funding for this project to ensure fundraising is safe for everyone.   

Finally, we discussed the protective factors and actions that we have and continue to undertake to make the fundraising community a safe space. As good as any one individual organisation’s policies and processes are, a difficult issue to address is how to prevent sexual misconduct offenders from moving from one organisation to another. This is a hugely complicated area with complex legal and ethical considerations to be aware of. But it’s one that I believe we need to get right in order to have the trust of our members and to prevent further harm being perpetrated. 

If you haven’t already watched the Safeguarding Member Webinar, you can access it through your account. 

Joining the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme

A key action we are taking forward is that the Chartered Institute is now a member of the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. This is a scheme developed by a group of humanitarian, development, and other civil society organisations committed to sharing relevant information about individuals who have been found to have committed sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, or sexual abuse in the course of their employment or under the terms of their position. The scheme is in addition to and distinct from any other forms of due diligence used in the recruitment process - this includes board and governance positions.  

Organisations that sign up to the scheme also agree to the Common Principles, two of which are:  

  1. That the provision of and request for a Statement of Conduct is mandatory in all recruitment, including governance roles. 

  1. That allegations of misconduct are investigated and dealt with appropriately, including conducting and concluding a thorough, fair, and dependable investigation process.  

This Scheme works best when as many organisations as possible sign up; another Common Principle of the Scheme, to raise awareness throughout the sector in order to increase the number of participating organisations and the effectiveness of the Scheme, as well as to strengthen public trust in sector safeguarding. So, if you are a CEO reading this, please sign up now, and if your organisation is not already participating, please ask your CEO to sign up here. 

Update on the Independent Review

The Independent Review that commenced in March 2022* is progressing well, we are very hopeful that the outcome will be ready for Winter 2022. It is important that we get this right and will update you as soon as we know more.  

Continuing to improve

In the coming months I want to share with you the improved safeguarding policies and talk about how these will shape our practice and ensure consistency in the development of a diverse, safe and inclusive culture.  There has been a vast amount of work already undertaken and commitments made towards positive change and creating safe spaces, which I hope that you are able to see and experience. 

Michele Welch
Michele Welch
Head of Professional Conduct 

*Date was corrected from April 2022 to March 2022 - Updated 26/09/23

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