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E227 - Sexual Harassment with Lizzie Emilion

“What’s an inappropriate hand when £10,000 could really help a beneficiary. I think a lot of female fundraisers feel that way… ” – Lizzie Emilion

The issues raised in this week’s episode may be distressing or triggering for some of our listeners as we sat down with Lizzie Emilion, Head of Major Gifts at Teach First to discuss sexual harassment in philanthropic giving.

We explore the topics of donor dominance and the professionalism of fundraising as a discipline and what roles these can play in fostering environments in which sexual harassment can take place within major giving. Lizzie also gives helpful advice to managers, individuals and us a sector for what we can be doing to prevent inappropriate behaviour occurring.

Professional vs Personal

A core theme that ran through our conversation was the professionalism of the fundraiser, juxtaposed with the personal giving of an individual. As fundraisers, we are often encouraged to be ‘donor-centric’ and build friendly rapports with major donors. Unfortunately, if this perceived friendliness leads to sexual harassment, it is usually the female fundraiser who is removed from the situation rather than the donor’s financial contribution not being accepted. It is vitally important that leaders refer to their fundraisers as professionals to ensure that it is known that they are experts.

Where sexual harassment can show up

Events can be a place where the risk of experience a sexual attack to a professional fundraiser can increase. However, there are also cases of women being followed back to offices or cornered in restaurants by donors. We need to remember than nuance is key and what makes one person feel uncomfortable; there is a range of examples but they’re all equally important to address. There are the cases of physical attacks in addition to inappropriate touching, comments and communications.

Codes of conduct

Whilst the biggest changes will have to come from sector-wide collaboration, if you want to get your organisation to a place where you are able to handle any complaints of inappropriate donor behaviour, it may be worth considering Lizzie’s suggestion of a “code of conduct” for givers to understand what is expected of them. It can also foster an environment whereby it will be easier for fundraisers to say no to gifts if its felt a donor has wrongly exerted their dominance along the way.

If you have been impacted by any of the issues raised in the episode, there are a number of national helplines such as Samaritans or Rape Crisis England and Wales that you can reach out to. You can also report inappropriate behaviour anonymously as the CIOF have partnered with the Talk to Spot App.

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good is a fundraising platform helping businesses raise funds for charities through their sales. The platform makes the legal agreement needed for businesses to sales

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We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E163 - The Profession Of Fundraising With Ian MacQuillin

E208 - Tackling Economic Abuse With Robyn Moffat - Wall

E186 - Women In STEM With Kim Diep And Shauna Devlin


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