Most people only ever encounter an organisation’s complaints and disciplinary procedures at a time when they need them.
When the seven members of the newly formed Professional Conduct Committee (“the Committee”) met at the end of December 2023, that point (perhaps an obvious one) particularly struck me, and is at the heart of our role.
Whether as a complainant or a complainee, understanding the next steps amidst heightened levels of anxiety makes it even more important that the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s policies and processes are accessible, practical, and work for members.
Many of you will be aware that the formation of the Committee is part of the Action Plan for safeguarding fundraising and putting into place recommendations of the Learning Review, conducted by Tell Jane.
Our work will be partly guided by the recommendations of the Independent Review. Once this is available, a subgroup of the Committee is ready to carefully consider the relevant parts of the Review to ensure that the findings and recommendations are reflected throughout the implementation of the CIOF's approach to professional conduct.
As Chair of the Committee (assisted by my highly qualified Deputy, Matt), I’m looking forward to becoming a more familiar name to the CIOF's members and we’ll soon be introducing you to our Committee members who bring with them not only a wealth of knowledge and experience, but a genuine desire to change how professional conduct is seen and dealt with by the CIOF and more widely across the profession.
We have a wide range of responsibilities, with one of my roles being to direct strategy and focus on ensuring we act in accordance with our terms of reference. My approach is shaped by (re)building trust and the importance that the Member Code of Conduct and the Code of Behaviour for Events are understandable, understood and reflect reality, and when, despite our preventative measures, things go wrong, members know what to do and what to expect.
The Committee sits alongside a fantastic team which includes the Head of Professional Conduct and the CIOF’s former and current Safeguarding & Whistleblowing trustees.
In developing and improving current policies and procedures, we need to be able to critically analyse what currently exists. The Committee has already started to consider best practice and examples from other organisations, with some members bringing direct insight from other committees they have been involved with.
Over the next year Committee members will be carefully reviewing the Code of Conduct and Code of Behaviour, as well as the support available to members, and advising the Board of Trustees on how we can improve professional conduct standards.
We will meet a minimum of three times per year and will provide an update report at every Trustee meeting, but as we establish the Committee and allocate responsibilities to the members, I anticipate we will meet more frequently in the beginning and communicate outside of those meetings to fulfil our role. Where there is concern that conduct does fall below expectations, we will ensure that the complaints and disciplinary policies are effective and work for members at the crucial moment they might need them.
I will keep you updated on our progress, but for now I express my appreciation to the CIOF and its membership for trusting me with this wide ranging remit and under my direction please be assured that the Committee will continually reflect on what we learn through our investigations, our oversight of complaints and disclosures received by the CIOF and, mostly important, from feedback by members.