Peter Lewis speech to IoF North West on leadership and fundraising on International Women's Day

Peter Lewis speech to IoF North West on leadership and fundraising on International Women's Day

Peter Lewis | 8 March 2017

Institute of Fundraising Chief Executive, Peter Lewis, speaks about fundraising leadership at the IoF North West's Annual Conference in Liverpool on 8th March.

I’d like to start with a quote from Christable Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, from 1911.  As relevant as ever on International Women’s Day 2017.

“We are here to claim our right as women, not only to be free, but to fight for freedom.

That is our right, as well as our duty.

It is our privilege, as well as our pride and joy to take some part in this militant movement which, as we believe, means the regeneration of all humanity”

Some fantastic phrases.

“the regeneration of all humanity”

This is what our sector, voluntary & community organisations around the world, are about.

At the IoF our Vision is Excellent Fundraising for a better world” but the sentiment is the same. We are there for the regeneration of humanity. And the women’s movement, and the fight for women’s equality, continues to be a part of that.

And that phrase “the regeneration of humanity” is at the core of what it means to be a professional in the voluntary and community sector.

We cannot be professional without that passion and desire to make the world a better place.

We cannot be professional if we lose that connection to our purpose or values, and what our organisations are fundamentally about.

And there are other fantastic, relevant phrases for our sector in Christabel’s words.

“not only be free, but to fight for freedom”

We as professionals in the sector have to retain our independence. We have to retain the independence of our causes. And we have to retain our independence as professionals. As fundraising professionals we need to retain our independence to challenge colleagues if fundraising targets are too high; if we are not involved in key decisions affecting the future of the causes we work for.

And we have to also fight for the voices of our beneficiaries to be heard; we have to help give them a voice if they need that help. That is all part of being a professional in the sector.

Our professionalism should guide how we exercise that voice, but our professionalism also insists that we keep that voice unshackled from outside pressures.

“our right, as well as our duty”

As professionals in the sector we have to remember our duties towards our beneficiaries, as well as our duties to further our supporters, who achieve the changes in the world they want to see through us.

“our privilege, pride and joy”

It can be easy to forget this privilege to work for causes we care about. But we must not forget.

This has sometimes been difficult over the last 2 years for the fundraising community, as it has been a difficult two years of scrutiny and change. And I have been incredibly impressed with the resilience of the fundraising community – keeping the pride, keeping the joy and adapting to the changing environment.

As professionals in the sector we must not lose sight of the privilege it is to serve, or the joy and pride in doing what we do for the causes we care about.

And finally to “taking part in this militant movement”

Those of you who know me well will know I am in no way military. By that in no ways means that I, or the sector should not be militant on behalf of our causes. The dictionary definition of militant is “someone who wants to battle”

And we should all want to battle for our causes. Indeed as a professional in the sector it is incumbent upon us to battle for what is right, for our causes, for the charitable objectives of your cause.

Whether you are involved in a charity’s finances, in delivering its services, in supporting campaigns or fundraising, your professionalism demands that you battle for your cause.

People can be professional in any sector – doing their job efficiently, effectively, diligently. Investing in their personal and professional development. Belonging to and contributing to the debates of the day. And of course joining their professional body.

But the additional responsibility on a professional in the charity sector is not to forget why you are doing what you are doing.

Every action you take, each and every day, you are taking part in the regeneration of humanity.

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