John Glenn College of Public Affairs Assistant Professors Megan LePere-Schloop and Erynn Beaton, in partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, released “Speaking Truth to Power in Fundraising: A Toolkit,” a report that includes findings from a mixed-methods study of the fundraising workplace, a call to action in addressing sexual harassment in the profession, and a set of resources for taking action.
The report, released May 16, is the culmination of two years of work that began by delving deeper into a survey originally launched in 2018 between the association and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Working with the association, Beaton and LePere-Schloop created a follow-up survey to better understand the connection between organizational characteristics and sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment, as well as other diversity and inclusion issues like discrimination and bullying, are exercises of power,” said Beaton. “Our hope is that these tools help put more power back in fundraisers’ hands.”
The toolkit provides materials for training sessions and informal discussions about sexual harassment in the fundraising profession as well as resources intended to assist organizations and their leaders to become more prepared and effective at preventing sexual harassment in and around the organization. A Sexual Harassment Prevention Assessment helps evaluate an organization’s preparation to prevent sexual harassment. Leaders can then use an Action Planning Template to identify areas and dimensions from the prevention assessment that an organization would like to improve upon and develop a process for making those changes.
Using a definition of sexual harassment that includes gender hostility, unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion, the report found that more than three-quarters of fundraisers (76%) have experienced sexual harassment in their career, while 42% percent have experienced sexual harassment over the past two years alone.
In addition, almost one-quarter (23%) have experienced sexual coercion during their career, which is defined as fundraisers being asked or pressured by their employers to put themselves in a position where they would be vulnerable to sexual harassment in order to secure gifts, including dressing attractively.
“While many of the findings from this research are disturbing, we hope that the message of the overall report will inspire nonprofit leaders and staff to address the issues head on,” said LePere-Schloop. “We worked hard to build the resources in this toolkit so that fundraisers, nonprofits and supporters are better equipped to make positive change moving forward.”
The report asked respondents the degree to which they agreed their organizations had taken “sufficient steps to prevent” harassment and other issues. While almost 80% agreed their organizations had taken sufficient steps in regard to workplace violence, harassment based on race, and sexual harassment, just 70% agreed when asked if organization took sufficient steps to prevent workplace bullying.
While workplace bullying may seem less egregious than workplace violence and harassment, it negatively affects individuals targeted by bullying and, in the long term, can create an environment more conducive to violence and harassment.
“There’s been a lot of data produced about the challenges charities and fundraisers face in battling harassment, bias, bullying and discrimination, but very little on actual ways and steps that we can help address and prevent these issues,” said Mike Geiger, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “This report changes that and not only provides more updated information, but also delivers an organizational self-assessment checklist and roleplay scenarios so we can all begin to create cultures that support fundraisers and all staff.”
Beaton and LePere-Schloop wrote about their research in an article in The Conversation, a nonprofit, independent news organization that publishes articles written by academic experts for the general public and edited by a team of journalists.