Sexual harassment allegations impact donations, survey finds

Sexual harassment allegations impact donations, survey finds

Nearly two in five donors who have heard about workplace sexual harassment at a charity say they no longer donate to or have reduced their support for the organization, a report from, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, finds.

Based on a survey of more than thirty-one hundred adults in the United States and Canada, the report, Special Report: Sexual Harassment and the Charitable Sector (41 pages, PDF), found that 22.3 percent of U.S. respondents and 29.5 percent of Canadian respondents who have heard about sexual harassment at a nonprofit no longer give to the organization, while 17.1 percent (U.S.) and 16.3 percent (Canada) report giving less. Of those who withdrew or reduced their support for a charity, 47.8 percent of U.S. and 42.1 percent of Canadian respondents reported redirecting the donation to another charity in the same issue area, 13.3 percent and 21.1 percent redirected the donation to another issue area, and 38.9 percent and 36.8 percent did not redirect the funds. 

According to the survey, about half of respondents believe sexual harassment to be "a common problem" (15.8 percent in the U.S. and 13.1 percent in Canada) or "sometimes a problem" (36 percent in both the U.S. and Canada) in the nonprofit sector. And while 22.7 percent (U.S.) and 18.8 percent (Canada) of respondents had heard about sexual harassment involving a charity in 2019, 52 percent and 44.3 percent of those employed by a charity reported hearing about sexual harassment at another charity. 

The survey also found that 42.8 percent of U.S. and 41.7 percent of Canadian respondents had heard about sexual harassment at a house of worship and that more than two in five no longer gave to or gave less to that congregation, while nearly half (46.7 percent and 47.7 percent) did not redirect their donation. If the charity takes appropriate actions to address the problem — for example, conducting an internal or third-party investigation or enforcing an anti-harassment policy — 38.1 percent of U.S. and 35.1 percent of Canadian respondents said they would resume their normal level of support. 

"As mission-driven organizations, charities have a special place in the hearts of the public and can be held to a high ethical standard," said president and CEO H. Art Taylor. "As an issue of good governance, charities must strengthen their cultures so that sexual harassment is clearly understood and never tolerated. They must be prepared to react in a timely and appropriate fashion, and openly communicate with their donors about the issues and any implemented solutions."