Our Manifesto for Change to build an inclusive profession
A reflection from Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, on why supporting the fundraising community to become more equal, diverse and inclusive is one of the biggest challenges for the whole charity sector.
When I arrived at the Institute of Fundraising in 2011 I was shocked at how white and predominantly female the fundraising profession was. Having lived and worked in London for most of my professional life, I was so used to walking and working amongst diverse communities that I had presumed the sector would be just like them.
Most people I spoke to about this agreed that something needed to be done, but few knew the scale of the issue. So in 2012 we partnered with the Barrow Cadbury Trust to survey the diversity of individual fundraisers. The results told us what we had expected – and seen for ourselves – that there was a clear lack of diversity in the fundraising profession. Due to a range of reasons we were unable to proactively progress tackling the issue at that time, becoming preoccupied with issues of fundraising standards as we were. But as we developed our new strategy with members we prioritised building increasing the diversity of the profession into our next strategy, and under Amanda Bringans’ leadership as Chair, we are doing something about it.
Elizabeth Balgobin refreshed our original research at the end of last year and recommended we set up an Independent Expert Panel to advise us on the right strategic approach to take, a Panel made up of fundraisers with the lived experience of the barriers people face as they enter or try to progress within the profession and people and organisations with specific diversity expertise.
Established in February this year, under the leadership of Sufina Ahmad, the Panel was committed to doing the right thinking, before jumping in and doing things. At the same time the Panel; seized the opportunity to work with ACEVO on a joint report on increasing the racial diversity of the sector and also encouraged the launch of the Access Fund to enable more people from diverse backgrounds to attend Fundraising Convention, our flagship annual event.
Yet the most important objective remained getting the thinking right, and through workshops and stakeholder engagement the Panel agreed the evidence base and developed a Theory of Change to underpin our thinking. We publish this thinking as our Manifesto for Change for the fundraising profession, committing us at the Institute to drive forward equality, diversity and inclusion within our community, and asking our members to join us on that important journey.
In fact, we are not just inviting fundraisers to join us on this journey, we need the whole charity sector and its partners to join the journey too. We need the support of Chief Executives and Trustees, HR leaders and recruiters, so that we can create inclusive environments where everyone can be the right fit for our fundraising community.
The Board of Trustees at the Institute has been absolutely clear, we do not believe you can deliver truly excellent fundraising without embracing equality, diversity and inclusion. We know there is a legal case for this, but we also know that there is a business case for it too. The moral case, for all of us working in this sector, is ingrained in our missions and charitable objectives and in the values that drive us all to work to make the world a better place.
Supporting the fundraising community to become more equal, diverse and inclusive is not just one of the biggest challenges facing the fundraising profession. It should be one of the biggest challenges for the whole charity sector. I hope you will join us on our journey. I hope you will become one of the #ChangeCollective.
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive, Institute of Fundraising