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A quarter of female fundraisers experience sexual harassment, says AFP survey

A quarter of female fundraisers experience sexual harassment, says AFP survey

A survey by the North American Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has found that a quarter of female fundraisers have experienced sexual during their fundraising career.

The survey, “the first comprehensive study of its kind about sexual harassment in the fundraising profession”, was conducted by AFP, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. It was conducted online independently by the Harris Poll.

The survey, launched on International Women’s Day 2018, is the first major project of the Women’s Impact Initiative. This is a two-year campaign focusing on issues related to women in the fundraising profession, including harassment, salary inequity and lack of women in fundraising leadership positions. 


48% of respondents had either personally experienced, witnessed, and/or heard second-hand about incidents of sexual harassment.

• 21% of all respondents to the survey (men and women) had personally experienced harassment

16% of all respondents had witnessed harassment

26% have been told about incidents of harassment

7% of men had experienced sexual harassment in the fundraising profession

74% of all respondents reported having had at least two harassment experiences

51% of all respondents have had three or more experiences of harassment


SEE ALSO: My experience of being a woman in the charity sector by Beth Upton (14 July 2017)

Types of harassment

The most common types of sexual harassment experienced by fundraisers were:

• inappropriate sexual comments (80%)

• unwanted touching or physical contact (55%).


Support from an employer

What kind of support have fundraisers received from their employers?

71% of respondents who had experienced sexual harassment and told their organisation said that no action had been taken against the perpetrator.

53% were not very or not at all satisfied with how their manager, supervisor or employer had responded to the allegation of sexual harassment

35% of respondents report a “negative impact” on their career due to reporting the incident of harassment.


Harassment by donors

According to the survey, 65% of harassment cases reported were carried out by a donor against a fundraiser. In 96% of these cases the perpetrator was male.

27% of respondents felt that donors had more rights than they did. In addition, 13% clearly felt a serious lack of support from their charity employer, believing that their organisation accords a greater value to the loyalty of the donors than to the safety of it staff!


SEE ALSO: Unacceptable behaviour by donors, condoned by charities. Things must change by Giles Pegram CBE


Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP, said: “The number of cases involving donors is eye-opening and points to a unique and very troubling situation within the profession… We know most donors have only the best interest of the cause at heart, but our message will be clear: no donation and no donor is worth taking away an individual’s respect and self-worth and turning a blind eye to harassment.”

Tycely Williams, chair of AFP’s Women’s Impact Initiative, added: “A big takeaway from the survey is that many fundraisers like their organisations and believe it will support them if harassment occurs. But at the same time, the data shows that once harassment was reported, often times very little was done. We need to begin a larger conversation with everyone in the sector about what we can all do to not only prevent harassment, but respond appropriately and timely when it does occur.”



#MeToo in fundraising?

Many respondents were optimistic that positive change was being made in terms of challenging sexual harassment within fundraising.

For example:

• 92% believe that sexual harassment allegations in fundraising are more likely to be taken seriously now than in the past.

• 82% felt that the #MeToo movement was having a positive influence on their workplace.

• 93% want a zero tolerance policy to be implemented in every workplace, with 70% feeling very strongly that this should be the standard.

WATCH: Ensuring diversity is a key theme at Fundraising Convention 2018

Sufina Ahmad, chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion panel, explains why diversity will be a key theme at the 2018 Fundraising Convention.


Main image by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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