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Whereas the #MeToo motion that raised public consciousness of sexual harassment is making fewer headlines than it did in 2017 and 2018, this downside hasn’t gone away. It’s nonetheless an particularly massive downside for nonprofit fundraisers, the professionals chargeable for growing relationships with charitable donors.
We’re nonprofit students who’ve been researching sexual harassment in fundraising for a number of years. We’ve discovered that about 76% of fundraisers report experiencing some type of work-based sexual harassment of their careers. That’s partly as a result of fundraisers work together with giant numbers of donors, board members and volunteers.
It’s the fundraiser’s job to maintain these stakeholders joyful in order that they donate their time and money, which makes it laborious for fundraisers to push again when their harassers behave in inappropriate methods.
A persistent downside
Along with finding out the extent of sexual harassment over the course of fundraisers’ careers, we requested about newer experiences. We discovered that 42% of fundraisers mentioned they’d skilled behaviors outlined as sexually harassing within the two years earlier than the summer season of 2020. This fee, which incorporates harassment by colleagues, donors and others not employed by the fundraisers’ organizations, is excessive by any normal.
For instance, the speed of sexual harassment within the federal office was at 14% over the 2 years earlier than the summer season of 2016.
Our findings come from a sequence of 75 interviews with fundraisers and a survey of 1,782 members of the Affiliation of Fundraising Professionals. Within the survey, we appeared on the supply of sexual harassment. We discovered that within the two years earlier than the summer season of 2020, 18% of fundraisers had been sexually harassed by co-workers, 10% had been harassed by donors or somebody outdoors the group, and an extra 14% had been harassed by each.
Nearly 79,000 individuals work in fundraising within the U.S., most of whom are white ladies. These professionals increase cash for nonprofit organizations like hospitals, universities, meals banks and environmental teams.
“Plenty of the lads in these conditions are simply highly effective,” defined “Matilda,” which isn’t her actual title as a result of we’re defending the privateness of the individuals we interviewed.
They’re “males who get what they need, you realize, and a variety of occasions meaning having the ability to make the most of a younger lady, or any lady, and getting away with it,” continued Matilda, a fundraiser who mentioned she had been harassed by a donor. “The entire conditions I’ve instructed you about was males [that] haven’t skilled any penalties. And they also proceed to do it.”
Some fundraisers face extra threat than others
We discovered that lesbian, homosexual and bisexual fundraisers have been extra more likely to be sexually harassed than their straight counterparts.
The worst type of sexual harassment is sexual coercion, which incorporates stress for sexual favors or dates, stalking and even rape.
Our survey outcomes present that fundraisers who determine as lesbian, homosexual or bisexual, as individuals of colour, or as each individuals of colour and LGB, usually tend to expertise sexual coercion than their straight white friends.
Sexual harassment of fundraisers of colour may represent harassment on the premise of race. “Angela,” who identifies as African American and feminine, instructed us in an interview that she heard feedback from donors like “I’ve by no means had a Black lady.”
‘No matter it takes’
Fundraisers’ efficiency is usually assessed when it comes to the amount of cash they bring about in. Fundraisers additionally really feel stress to generate a variety of donations as a result of that funding can decide whether or not layoffs are vital and what number of purchasers a corporation can serve.
To grasp how this will create stress to place up with sexual harassment, think about a fundraiser who works for a small well being clinic. A possible donor exhibits curiosity in giving a big sum of cash. Nevertheless, he retains asking the fundraiser to satisfy him for drinks within the late night, kissing them on every cheek as a greeting and finally propositioning them in an inappropriate, sexual textual content message.
Does the fundraiser endure this conduct to safe a donation that might maintain the group totally staffed and serving uninsured sufferers? The fundraisers we interviewed all had their very own responses to this query.
Many, together with “Victoria,” shrugged their shoulders and mentioned they do “no matter it takes to get the job achieved.”
Some confront their harasser, however extra use avoidance by making excuses for why they’ll’t meet in particular person. We additionally heard from fundraisers who instructed us they stop their job after being sexually harassed at work. A few of these left the career for good.
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We additionally discovered that 23% of fundraisers have skilled not simply harassment however sexual exploitation sooner or later of their profession.
One widespread instance of the sexual exploitation that fundraisers expertise happens when supervisors in their very own group stress them to decorate extra attractively or in any other case put themselves at higher threat of sexual harassment to get extra donations. “Ruth” instructed us about how one in every of her bosses had invited her to the boss’s residence to organize for a gala.
The boss had her attempt on attire that have been “very fitted and really tight” and that she didn’t really feel comfy in. The boss insisted on lavish make-up and excessive heels.
“Carrie” instructed us she was inspired to satisfy with a donor braless as a result of he was going to “like it.”
Ruth, Carrie and the opposite fundraisers we interviewed mentioned they felt demeaned and humiliated by these interactions.
Combating the battle
Solely 15% of fundraisers experiencing harassment by a colleague and 27% experiencing sexual harassment by a donor or one other exterior stakeholder selected to report these situations, we discovered.
Reporting of sexual harassment is usually low in all workplaces, and analysis factors to causes the reluctance is justified. Individuals who report sexual harassment usually endure unfavorable penalties. When an incident goes unreported, although, it’s laborious to do something about it.
“Lucille” mentioned she endured sexual harassment from a supervisor for six years earlier than she reported it. The group retaliated in opposition to her, moderately than her boss, by demoting her. Whereas she thought of quitting, she continued to “battle the battle” as a result of she needed to guard others.
Having studied and shared many ways in which nonprofit leaders can stop sexual harassment, we consider that it shouldn’t simply be as much as fundraisers to resolve this downside.
Through the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot nonprofit fundraising occurred remotely, lowering alternatives for sexual harassment. As extra workplace work and fundraising occasions happen in particular person, fundraisers inevitably face larger dangers once more.
Nonprofits can scale back the prevalence of sexual harassment by following the very best practices we included in a toolkit knowledgeable by our analysis that’s publicly obtainable on-line.
Among the finest practices we advocate embrace writing an anti-harassment coverage that features donors and others outdoors the group who could have interaction on this conduct. Along with insurance policies, nonprofits want to coach their workers, volunteers and donors, and high leaders want to strengthen the knowledge shared at these trainings.
Above all, fundraisers want to listen to from supervisors that no donation is extra vital than their dignity and security.
Erynn Beaton carried out a lot of this analysis in partnership with Affiliation of Fundraising Professionals. No cash was exchanged.
Megan LePere-Schloop carried out a lot of this analysis in partnership with the Affiliation of Fundraising Professionals. No cash was exchanged.