Taking professional conduct in fundraising forward

30 June 2022
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In this blog, Michele Welch, our new Head of Professional Conduct, reflects on what it means to her to be working to create a safe environment for fundraising, and what lessons she has learned in her career in social work.

I've spent my entire career raising and reporting issues, whistleblowing, and pushing for equity, justice, and a safe workplace, much like many of you. I know from personal experience that raising and reporting issues is a terrifying concept, especially given the possibility that doing so could jeopardise our mental well-being, financial and reputational status. It has sadly rarely ended well for me, but it did help me sleep better at night, knowing that I had raised the concerns.

This hasn't deterred me in the least. In fact, it has enormously encouraged and motivated me to reach a position where I have the power to make a positive difference, where I can have a genuine and real impact.  I want to work hard to create a safe harbour where those who want to come forward feel able to do so, in the knowledge that it won’t end badly. I shared these objectives with the Chartered Institute during my interviews and felt reassured that myself and the organisation are aligned in our values, standards and a shared focus on implementation of actions. 

I started as the Head of Professional Conduct in the spring and have spent considerable time reviewing the actions and changes that have already taken place, including changes to the structures and systems, and believe that the current leadership maintains this shared vision for a safe and inclusive fundraising sector.  

When I finished my degree in Organisational Counselling in 2002, I began working with people in the social sector. I started a Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Social Work in 2006 and graduated in 2008. My first post qualifying role was as a community and hospital adult social worker in local government. The Mental Capacity Act of 2005 was in effect at the time, and the Care Act of 2014 was yet in its infancy. The Care Act of 2014 made it mandatory for local governments to protect vulnerable adults. These two pieces of law inspired me to pursue a career in adult safeguarding, and it was here that I discovered my affinity for frameworks and legislation  

Professional standards shining light in the darkest corners

As many of you are probably aware, social work is a regulated profession. This means that I am obligated to adhere to professional standards defined by Social Work England, and that if I fail to do so, there are checks and balances in place to protect people from harm and ensure I am accountable for my practice.  

I'm still a registered social worker with Social Work England, and I'll continue to follow professional guidelines in my employment at the Chartered Institute. Those who want to read the full details of the professional standards that I am required to uphold can do so here.

Through my social work practise, I've had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and grow professionally at operational and strategic levels. Professional standards have been the foundation of my career, and it is these that I bring as a toolkit and use in my role here to embed into the culture and achieve equity.  

I'm ecstatic to have the chance to help make the fundraising community a more welcoming and inclusive environment and want to share with you our new reporting system - ‘Talk to Spot’.  People can  share concerns, upload and share evidence, entirely anonymously and will also help to embed a safe and inclusive culture with its unique anonymous ‘cultural deep dives’ and EDI training.

Spot is available 24 hours a day, every day and is always ready at a time and place convenient to you. Spot provides our staff, volunteers and members with a more comfortable way of speaking up about inappropriate conduct and any other concerns or issues. You can report as early or as often as needed.  

Working together to bring about change

Please contact me at michelew@ciof.org.uk if you have any questions or concerns. You can also contact me by sending an email to complaints@ciof.org.uk .  If you wish to remain anonymous, please use Talk to Spot where you can share any concerns and / or feedback.  You can also choose to share your identity on Spot should you wish to.  

I value your privacy and security and will ensure that any information you share with me is properly managed, as securely stored as possible, and only accessed by those who are authorised and where it is necessary and proportionate for them to do so.   

I look forward to meeting and working with you, and across our membership and wider fundraising community, to bring about the changes that we want to see. Fundraising is a profession where everyone should feel safe and treated with respect, no matter what charity or cause you work for, and where we, together, uphold the values and exhibit the behaviours we can be proud of.  

Michele Welch
Michele Welch
Head of Professional Conduct 
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