A Message from RAINN

Dear Friend of RAINN, 

Thank you for your commitment to RAINN’s mission and our critical programs to support survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones.

As you may be aware, there was an article recently published about RAINN and its workplace culture. I know that it might have been painful to read and may have challenged your faith in RAINN and our leadership, including me. I am sorry for the impact this article may have had on you, as someone so dedicated to our mission.

This moment has been one of great self-reflection that I hope will lead to the growth and improvement of an organization and staff that I care deeply about. In recent days, we’ve dedicated much of our time to listening to our staff, working with our board, and identifying ways we can improve. I am reaching out today because I believe it is important to share details with you.

This is a pivotal point for RAINN, and I want you to know that we are committed to doing better — and we will do better. We’ve taken a number of actions in the past few weeks and plan many more over the coming months. We are approaching this journey with humility and open hearts and minds. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

RAINN’s team of more than 200 professionals does incredibly difficult work, and they deserve a workplace that supports them. We are committed to working with our employees to make RAINN a more equitable and inclusive organization and a workplace that we can all be proud of. 

RAINN strives toward a diverse workforce that reflects the people we serve. More than 40% of our senior executives are people of color, as are 74% of the leadership in our largest division, Victim Services. Over the past two years, RAINN has worked with DEI experts and garnered input from staff to expand and implement DEI policies and goals.

Last summer, we launched a DEI strategic plan, and we are continually working to foster an open dialogue between employees and leadership to ensure ideas and concerns are heard and addressed. Since launching our DEI strategic plan, the number of internal promotions has increased significantly and, in the second half of 2021, our staff turnover rate was half the national average.

That said, we know that there’s much more we can do. 

To accelerate our DEI work, we are broadening the internal team leading our DEI efforts to ensure that diverse voices of staff across the organization are part of the process. We are also adding extensive management and leadership training for staff, as well as training on implicit bias and microaggressions.

Supporting Team RAINN

The work of supporting survivors and their loved ones is challenging and, at times, weighs heavily on our team members. That’s why RAINN recently added mental health and telemedicine benefits for all staff. This benefit is entirely free for all staff and their family members, and it is in addition to our standard health insurance benefits. We take mental health very seriously, and we encourage our team members to use these benefits to take care of themselves as they serve and support others.

We also recently implemented a confidential external ethics reporting line, which allows staff to anonymously report concerns with the confidence that they will be investigated, with appropriate follow-up action taken.

But we know there is more we can do. We want to ensure we are listening to our team members and surfacing their concerns and ideas. As a result, we are offering staff and volunteer listening sessions, which will be moderated by an external facilitator to ensure they provide a safe space for everyone involved. These will be opportunities for team members to share their thoughts and feedback, and these sessions will inform our ongoing efforts to ensure RAINN is a supportive and respectful workplace for all.

Further, we are creating a senior-level position to oversee staff wellness and organizational culture. Their first order of business will be to evaluate where our organizational culture is now and to create a plan to help us make RAINN the best workplace it can be. This new hire will also be responsible for leading our DEI efforts and will help ensure our DEI work remains a priority across the whole organization, with each department playing an important role. We are also in the process of doubling the size of our Human Resources department this year (we’re about halfway there so far) to support the work our employees do.

Good Stewardship of Resources

RAINN has always put great care into ensuring every dollar is maximized to directly support survivors and their loved ones, educate the public, and improve public policy. Of course, this work has continued even as we focus on internal improvements.

RAINN takes its fiduciary responsibility very seriously. The article may have left you with questions about my compensation. I want to assure you that RAINN follows all best-practice standards in setting compensation. The board is solely responsible for determining my compensation, and I am recused from that process. Every three years, the board reviews CEO compensation at organizations with similar size and scale and they set and vote on my compensation. I am paid as an independent contractor, rather than an employee, which is something that the board decided in accordance with IRS guidelines. We report my compensation on our tax forms each year, as well as in our audited financial statements.

I also want to address what the article erroneously called a “loan.” In RAINN’s early years, money was tight. When I started RAINN in 1994, I had a contract signed by the board that specified my compensation. But for many years, I deferred receiving any compensation to ensure that every dollar we raised was put toward our programs and hiring staff. Eleven years after I founded RAINN, when the organization was on stable financial footing, the board decided it was time to pay the deferred compensation that had accrued in our early years. The board then issued a note to be paid off over the following 13 years, and completed payments in 2018.

Being good stewards of the dollars you generously donate to support our work is of the utmost importance to RAINN and to me, and always will be. RAINN exists for the sole purpose of eradicating sexual violence and supporting the survivors of it, and it's my responsibility to ensure we’re maximizing every penny to do just that.

We also undergo an independent annual audit by Aronson LLC, and we meet additional auditing requirements that apply because we receive federal grants. RAINN has received a clean audit report every single year of our history since we were founded in 1994.

Governance and Organizational Structure

RAINN has grown at a rate of about 30% per year for the past decade. To manage that growth, we’ve hired experienced executives to lead each of our internal teams and added the infrastructure and policies needed for a larger staff.

Our next step in this process, in addition to doubling our HR team, will be to bring on a chief operating officer to manage our day-to-day operations as well as administrative and compliance functions. This person will help ensure that solid, scalable systems and processes, as well as greater communication, are in place across the organization. We plan to start recruiting for both the COO and wellness and culture positions this spring.

RAINN’s board of directors has met frequently over the past couple of weeks and has already approved all of these steps. They are also committed to increasing the size of the board over the next year and ensuring that the board reflects the diversity of our staff and those we serve. 

These are the first steps in what I recognize is a longer journey. While this work is the responsibility of our leadership team, I welcome any input you would like to share; any changes for the better should be informed by the experiences and expertise of everyone involved with RAINN. Our staff and volunteers, our generous supporters, and the organizations we work with to create safer communities deserve our best. I will do everything in my power to make sure that’s exactly what happens.

It’s important that we get this right. And we will.

Thank you again for your support of RAINN and commitment to eradicating sexual violence and helping survivors. 

Best regards,

Scott

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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