Study: Majority Of Fundraisers Were Sexually Harassed

More than three-quarters of fundraisers (76%) said that they have experienced sexual harassment during their career, while 42% have experienced sexual harassment during the past two years alone. And, 23% have experienced sexual coercion during their career, which is defined as being asked or pressured by their employers to put themselves in a position where they would be vulnerable to sexual harassment to secure gifts, including manner of dress.

These are some of the results of a study by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and researchers Erynn Beaton, Ph.D., and Megan LePere-Schloop, Ph.D., at The Ohio State University (OSU), that is titled Speaking Truth to Power in Fundraising: A Toolkit. It is the final report from the Fundraising Workplace Climate project.

For the purpose of the study, the definition of sexual harassment includes gender hostility, unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion.

The researchers asked respondents the degree to which their organizations had taken “sufficient steps to prevent” harassment and other issues. While almost 80% agreed their organizations had taken sufficient steps with 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.

The researchers also looked at how successful fundraisers thought their organizations were in recruiting a diverse workforce. Workforce diversity can be an indicator of an organization’s commitment to advancing equity because it reflects the extent to which the organization has been able to attract and retain employees from different backgrounds.

Overall, 43% of respondents agreed that their organization was “successful in recruiting a diverse workforce,” while 32% disagreed, 5% had no minorities working in the organization, and the remainder did not know or neither agreed nor disagreed.

Responses to this question also varied by the social identity of the fundraiser. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) fundraisers were more likely (49%) than Caucasian fundraisers (42%) to agree that their organization was successful in recruiting a diverse workforce. Female fundraisers (42%) were less likely than their male counterparts (47%) to agree. Only 34% of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB)-identifying fundraisers agreed that their organization has been successful at recruiting a diverse workforce.

“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, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “This report changes that and not only provides more updated information, but also delivers an organizational self-assessment checklist and role play scenarios so we can all begin to create cultures that support fundraisers and all staff.”