President's Perspective Blog

Walking the Walk: Resources to Battle Harassment

Leadership and Teams: Boards and Volunteers
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access (IDEA): Diversity and Inclusion (IDEA)
Career Development: Your Fundraising Career
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Today, we’re releasing the final report in our Fundraising Workplace Climate project, Speaking Truth to Power in Fundraising: A Toolkit.

One of the first projects I helped lead as president and CEO of AFP was the development of our 2018 sexual harassment survey conducted in partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Launched in coordination with our Women’s Impact Initiative, it was the most comprehensive survey of sexual harassment in the fundraising profession ever done at the time and an important benchmark for AFP in our work on IDEA—inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

From the results, we began to understand the extent of sexual harassment in the profession. We also came to know what we didn’t know. That is, we needed more specific information and details if we were going to be able to provide resources to help address these problems.

Enter Drs. Megan LePere-Schloop and Erynn Beaton, professors at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. They both had done previous work on equity in the nonprofit sector, saw our study and asked if we would work together on additional research. I’m forever grateful that they did, and from our initial conversations grew our Fundraising Workplace Climate project.

Together, we developed a second survey, and this time not just on harassment but also encompassing bias, bullying and discrimination. You’ve probably seen some of the initial results from that survey—we released some of the key findings in three parts throughout 2021. This final report brings together the top highlights and data from the full survey, but with one critical addition—a toolkit.

Data is always important, but AFP has always been committed to taking action and walking the walk, especially in the area of IDEA. We’re not really serving the profession if all we’re doing is illuminating the problems and not providing solutions. So I’m very proud that Fundraising Workplace Climate project, Speaking Truth to Power in Fundraising: A Toolkit contains resources and steps for individuals and organizations to take to protect and empower nonprofit staff, especially fundraisers in the field.

I encourage you to download a copy of the report and read it thoroughly. Review the scenarios laid out in the document and spend some time taking the self-assessment for your organization with regards to its policies and procedures on harassment. There will be situations noted in the text that you might find familiar—either personally or through colleagues and staff. Discrimination, bias, bullying and especially harassment—these are happening to so many people in the fundraising profession. But we can make a difference one organization at a time, starting with your own.

This report is not going to solve all of these issues, but I hope it is the start of many conversations—and many actions, events and activities—that help make the fundraising workplace a safer space. That is not a goal that will be reached overnight, but it is one we absolutely must be committed to for the long term.

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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