Episode 37 - Philanthropy in a #MeToo World - An Interview with Sarah Beaulieu, Founder of The Uncomfortable Conversation

Sarah Beaulieu - Founder of The Uncomfortable Conversation

The challenge we face:

The world of nonprofit fundraising is a place where uncomfortable realities surrounding sexual harassment and sexual violence need to be addressed. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1 in 4 women in nonprofit fundraising have experienced sexual harassment and 1 in 14 men have experienced sexual harassment. The complexity of these realities can be illustrated by the fact that two-thirds of these incidents are committed by donors, one-third are committed by staff and of the incidents reported 35% are committed by board members. In a world where the #MeToo movement has empowered people to speak about sexual harassment and violence more openly, Sarah Beaulieu discusses our need to make our workplaces safer for our employees and volunteers by engaging in conversations to be proactively protective and supportive to ensure that everyone entrusted to our organizations knows that their safety is our most important priority in fulfilling our missions

In this episode we’ll discuss:

  • How preventing sexual violence begins with having uncomfortable conversations.

  • The effect the #MeToo has had in nonprofit fundraising

  • How to change from an unsatisfying culture for your staff to a culture of safety and respect

  • Scenarios in which your team members might find themselves and how to prepare for them.

  • Steps you can take when someone comes to you with a report of sexual harassment or assault

  • Where to find sample organizational policies relating to sexual harassment and violence

  • Transparency about reporting and how confidentiality is handled.

  • Five key ideas for framing before you train: know the facts, accept that conversations will be uncomfortable, see the whole picture, embrace the practical questions, get curious, not furious

  • Who should intervene if a donor is harassing a fundraiser?

  • The power of media if board members and organizations aren’t responsive to a fundraiser’s claim of sexual violence or a culture of ignorance

  • How to shift power dynamics in concerning situations through bystander interventions

  • What to do when you find yourself questioning your own behavior and if you have crossed a line?

  • How to handle tough circumstances around resolving harassment issues that might impact the success of someone’s career.

  • How to address issues with donors and/or board members who are committing sexual harassment.


How you can make your voice heard!

There will be two discussions in the Philanthropy Podcast Facebook group this week. The questions we’re asking are:

  1. What have you seen work well in a place where you worked for ensuring that your employees and volunteers knew that the workplace was safe, that harassment wasn’t welcome, or that you had their full support?
  2. What was the nugget of gold you heard in this conversation or that you realized while you were listening to our conversation with Sarah?

You can join our Philanthropy Podcast Facebook Group to share ideas, get advice, and simply enjoy the company of other listeners.


Learn more about this episode’s guest, Sarah Beaulieu:

Sarah Beaulieu is an expert at engaging people in productive and meaningful conversations about sexual harassment and violence and founder of The Uncomfortable Conversation, a nonprofit that produces short-form videos that normalize conversations about consent, healthy relationships, advocacy and supporting survivors of sexual violence.

Her 2016 TEDxBeaconStreet talk summarized five years of intensive research and over 100 interviews with men on sexual violence and harassment. Her opinion pieces have been published by Boston Business Journal, Providence Journal, Chronicle of Philanthropy. She has appeared on Fox News Providence, WHYY, Huffington Post Live, and Voice America. The Uncomfortable Conversation has been featured in the Philadelphia Metro, WHYY, NY Observer, AskMen and FoxNews, and at events like the Independent Television Festival, Civic Series, Calling All Crows 10th Anniversary Event, and an interactive screening event at HBO.

Sarah frequently speaks with diverse audiences, including fraternity members, working professionals and students. Recent appearances include: Columbia University, Independent Television Festival, MIT, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, the Communications Network, SheGeeks Out, and Impact Hub NY.

Sarah’s work reflects lessons she learned through an early foray into public conversations about sexual violence. Her graphic, The Truth About False Accusation, generated international discussion and debate after being featured (and critiqued) on The Guardian UK, Washington Post and Slate.

Previously, Sarah held leadership roles in fundraising and communications at Brown University, Boston College, Be the Change and the GreenLight Fund. She is also a trained rape crisis counselor and served for five years on the board of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. She has a B.A. from Brown University and an MBA from Boston College.


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  6. Sarah’s Beaulieu - Website

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  8. The Uncomfortable Conversation

  9. Chronicle of Philanthropy - Survey of Sexual Harassment Article

  10. Chronicle of Philanthropy - What Every Nonprofit Leader Needs to Know About Sexual Violence

  11. 7 in 7 Challenge

  12. Skills You Can Practice to Prevent Sexual Harassment 1 of 2

  13. Skills You Can Practice to Prevent Sexual Harassment 2 of 2

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