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.
I was both shocked and inspired by the debate when I convened a panel discussion about Women in Fundraising at this year’s Fundraising Convention.
It’s been six months since the Institute of Fundraising launched the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Panel. In that time, our expert panel, has analysed the current state of affairs and drawn out the specific issues that we need to address in order to increase the diversity of the fundraising profession.
As a recent convert to the charity sector, I have been intrigued to observe the differences this sector brings in comparison to the commercial companies I have previously worked for – the abundance of cake, endless jargon and the inspirational can-do mentality from the people around me. However, one of the biggest surprises I’ve found is the predominance of women who work in this sector.
On the leadership panel at this year’s Fundraising Convention, I was introduced as the token white middle-aged middle-class, straight, able-bodied bloke, and asked how I dealt with that.
Three people made more than 3,000 of us stop to look at ourselves very differently last week. Between them, the plenary speakers at Fundraising Convention compelled us to consider our creativity, our cultural understanding and our mission for diversity. It’s what brought us to the Barbican Hall each day; that opportunity to truly reflect and be moved to create change.
I’ve just gotten back from a 10-day trip to New Orleans, partly pure fun and partly attending the international fundraising conference of IoF’s North American cousins, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFPs).
A few years ago, my eldest son asked “Daddy, why is your skin and grandma’s skin and Jajja’s – the traditional word for grandparent in Uganda – skin brown, mommy’s skin is pink and mine and my sister’s skin is different?” He had realised, despite the love of our big connected family and our efforts to celebrate our children’s dual heritage and cultural background - Irish and British via Ugandan roots – that we were different.
For me, the topic of diversity and the broad range of under-represented groups in fundraising really strikes a chord. I’m proud to work for Scope, a charity that works incredibly hard to get disabled people into, and staying in, employment. I'm also proud to be on the board of the IoF Fundraising Convention where there will be a focus on how we can all make the sector more diverse.
For the last few months, in my spare time outside of my role at the Institute, I’ve been involved in coordinating a project – What Women Want 2.0 (WWW 2.0) – which asked women across the UK a simple question, ‘what do you want?’. More than 8000 women responded, with an end to violence and harassment, social justice and freedom from expectations as just a few of their priorities.