“We launched our Funder Safeguarding Pledge as one of the first steps to our commitment to promoting a culture of safety through philanthropy.”
– Maria Robinson, MD, Board Chair
FADICA members have a history of collaborating to respond to challenges and crises in the Church and in society, and when reports emerged again in 2018 regarding sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, members were swift to respond. Recognizing that they had a unique opportunity to take a leadership role as funders and philanthropists, FADICA members surfaced concrete, proactive solutions that challenged existing funder norms and provided a clear path to deliver safeguarding resources to grantee partners. Focused on broader, renewed commitment to organizational safeguarding practice, members took on an active leadership role in the planning and development of FADICA’s Commitment to Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection.
FADICA’s Commitment to Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection is a multi-year initiative that engages members and grantee partners in safeguarding capacity-building. Inspired by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, this initiative affirms the inherent dignity of the human person while emphasizing the importance of safeguarding in upholding that dignity.
The key component of this new initiative is a funder-focused pledge. The pledge is specific enough to communicate a clear stance on safeguarding, while broad enough to accommodate an emerging framework for capacity-building that fits organizations of varying size. By signing the pledge, members commit to fostering a holistic culture of safety in their own foundation or among their grantee partners. Pledge adoption also confers immediate access to capacity-building resources for any and all of a member’s grantee partners. FADICA has partnered with Praesidium, Inc., an abuse risk management company, to provide expert technical assistance through trainings, consultation, and on-going support.
By implementing this safeguarding initiative through the FADICA member network, the burden on any individual member decreases and access for a larger number of grantee organizations increases. While the capacity-building program is currently only available to FADICA members and their grantee partners, the pledge’s language is accessible for any funder who wishes to define safeguarding expectations and encourage transformative safeguarding efforts in their own foundation and among their grantee partners
The Funder Safeguarding Pledge is a voluntary funder commitment that prioritizes the safety of children and vulnerable adults by communicating expectations for organizational safeguarding practice.
The pledge is the gateway through which FADICA members and their grantee partners can access technical resources to build safeguarding capacity. The pledge highlights 4 accessible action steps, centered on the idea of building safeguarding engagement opportunities between foundation personnel and grantee partners. These steps can all stand alone; there is also a natural progression through which they can build on one another. When member funders sign the pledge, committing to at least one action step, their teams and grantee partners are given access to educational webinars, trainings, and individual consulting hours with safeguarding experts.
The pledge ensures that free capacity-building is available within the FADICA network—particularly helpful for smaller, grassroots grantee-partners, who may not have devoted resources or personnel for safeguarding. The pledge is also flexible enough to accommodate grantee partners who may already be pursuing safeguarding training with a different technical assistance partner.
By publicly committing to safeguarding, funders communicate their support for a broader culture change that enhances the protection of children and vulnerable adults. This level of funder engagement has the power to change cultural norms, so that asking for a safeguarding policy becomes as ordinary as asking for a financial audit.
FADICA members understand that instituting or expanding organizational safeguarding requires an investment of time, personnel, and financial resources, which are not always readily accessible to grantee partners. Together, members and grantee partners can create or strengthen safeguarding policies, adopt effective practices for employee recruiting/hiring and regular staff trainings, and shape an overall approach to safeguarding that transcends mere compliance and focuses on long-term, organizational commitment.
Safeguarding capacity-building may look different for every foundation and grantee partner, but core safeguarding values will be expressed through resources like:
Educational and Technical Webinars
1:1 Consulting Hours
& Selection Toolkit
The Assisi Foundation of Memphis
Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota
Catholic Medical Mission Board
Connors Foundation for Catholic Activities
Healey Education Foundation
Healey Family Foundation
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Hilton Fund for Sisters
Hoffman Brothers Foundation
Incarnate Word Foundation
Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities
Mark and Karen Rauenhorst Foundation
Specialty Family Foundation
Wolohan Family Foundation
Herlinger, Chris, “Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Increased During Pandemic,” Global Sisters Report, July 20, 2020.
“COVID-19 lockdowns [have] created a perfect storm for the increase in online sexual abuse of children. Quarantined online child sex offenders are spending more time online and vulnerable children are also confined at home, often with their traffickers.”
Stewart, Nikita, “Child Abuse Cases Drop 51 Percent. The Authorities Are Very Worried,” New York Times, June 10, 2020.
“Those people who would ordinarily see our children,” she said, “their teachers, the pediatricians, social workers, camp counselors, etc., since they don’t have eyes on them now, we don’t know what’s happening with them.”
The tensions resulting from stay-at-home orders and social distancing — isolation, unemployment and even alcohol abuse — can easily erupt into violence, child welfare experts said. Sexual predators now have all-day access to children who would normally be in school…