Safeguarding is increasingly becoming the hot topic of the day for charities, but why should fundraisers care, and what do they need to know?
Charity safeguarding failures hit the headlines
In June, the Charity Commission published the report of its Independent Safeguarding Review into allegations of sexual misconduct by Oxfam GB staff in Haiti. Soon after the scandal emerged, Oxfam revealed it had lost the support of around 20,000 regular givers and other funders forcing it to scale back its charitable programmes.
A Guardian/ICM poll revealed the effect the scandal has had on the public perception of charities. Asked whether they were less likely to donate to humanitarian charities in the future, 35% said they were less likely.
What does this mean for my charity?
Whilst Oxfam GB may differ in its scale and mission, there are a number of important lessons to be learned by charities of all shapes and sizes on the impact safeguarding has on public trust and donor confidence. Although you may not have safeguarding directly as part of your role, that are things you can be doing to ensure your organisation is properly protecting all vulnerable people from abuse. Here are three to get you started:
1. Be open
Being open about what you have in place and where to take concerns demonstrates that you take the issues seriously and are actively taking steps to prevent abuse. Your charity should display on your premises and website its commitment to safeguarding. Your website should include details of who to call or contact in the event of a concern, and how to view or access your safeguarding policy. The policy should cover both your workforce (staff and volunteers) as well as your beneficiaries
2. Recruit safely
Recruitment is your first and most important opportunity to protect those you work with. Your charity should have a safer recruitment process in place for all paid and non-paid staff (including volunteers) that includes DBS checks where appropriate; a robust interview, suitability and appointment process; as well as suitable training. This is especially important for those working alongside beneficiaries. Don’t be tempted to cut corners but make sure you factor in the time needed if you’re running a project or event.
3. Communicate the message
Communicate with your supporters and donors what you are doing to ensure those that benefit from your services are kept safe from harm. Ensure all those in public facing roles, such as fundraisers, are aware of what is in place and can adequately respond to any questions and can properly direct people who may have concerns. You could run an interview with your safeguarding lead in your charity magazine or blog highlighting the work that is being done.
Putting people above reputation
At its heart safeguarding is about putting the care and protection of people central to all that your charity does. Seeing safeguarding as integral to your charity’s mission rather than an add on is an important step in ensuring a safer culture is created and embedded. Protecting vulnerable people from abuse is good for everyone, and will ensure trust in your organisation is upheld and maintained with all your stakeholders.
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