An independent investigation conducted by HR consultancy Tell Jane has concluded no wrongdoing by Chartered Institute of Fundraising former Chief Executive Peter Lewis in relation to an allegation that a complaint of sexual harassment was made to him in 2014 which he did not act upon.
The investigation included a review of all available evidence, seeking new evidence, and making direct contact with parties involved.
Trustees of the Chartered Institute said:
“The independent investigation conducted by Tell Jane into the allegation that Peter Lewis received a complaint in 2014, and did nothing about it, found no wrongdoing on Peter’s part. Peter also played no part in the investigation into a member’s conduct in 2019 due to the potential conflict of interest.”
Peter Lewis also commented, saying:
“My thoughts are with those who have been let down by our past complaints handling, policies and procedures. I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who has suffered harm. It’s vitally important to ensure that the fundraising community is safe.”
“Under my leadership the Institute started to improve its handling of complaints about sexual harassment, and I’m glad that creating safe and inclusive spaces for everyone remains a priority for the Chartered Institute moving forward.”
He also said that he had volunteered for the allegation of not acting on a complaint to be investigated independently, and that no complaint or disclosure was ever made to him.
The independent investigation into the complaint of sexual harassment against a member of the Institute is ongoing.
In March 2021, the Board agreed an action plan that accepted in full recommendations by Tell Jane to ensure the Institute and the profession is more inclusive of and safe for all fundraisers. Members have been advising the Institute on these changes and new advisory groups are being set up to lead and champion this work within the Institute and the profession, with progress on this to be reported at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s AGM next month. More on this can be read here.
Commenting, the Board of Trustees apologised to those who had been let down and said:
“We know that our culture and processes have let people down in the past and recognise that these have led to individuals not feeling supported to raise concerns or make complaints about harassment. As a Board of Trustees we want to apologise again to all those who have been let down by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. We are truly sorry.”
Claire Rowney, Chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, also commented, saying:
“I would like to thank Tell Jane for the thorough and independent investigation. It is enormously important to me that we get things right for victims of bullying, harassment and abuse in the sector.
“My commitment, and that of my fellow trustees, to improving both our internal processes and the culture in the sector is unwavering and we continue to recognise there is a great deal to achieve. We thank the fundraising community for their support, feedback and participation in driving improvements for all fundraisers in the future.
Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment by a member of the Chartered Institute or at one of its events, no matter when that incident happened, is encouraged to follow its complaints process. It also has a dedicated helpline with Tell Jane to provide confidential support and advice in understanding how a complaint will be handled. The free phone helpline is 0800 689 0843, and it is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).