Pegram: Women are still not engaged in the thinking in fundraising

Giles Pegram

Pegram: Women are still not engaged in the thinking in fundraising17

Fundraising | Tania Mason | 7 Feb 2013

A number of women fundraisers have taken to Twitter to condemn the lack of female speakers at a new fundraising event organised by former NSPCC fundraising director Giles Pegram and Professor Adrian Sargeant.

The speaker line-up at the Summit comprises nine men and just one woman, Professor Jen Shang, who is also Sargeant’s partner.

The Twitter debates were sparked off in January by a comment from @Charity_Chicks, who tweeted: “Really, is there only one woman that could be found for this?”

Pegram responded: “GLBT 1, BME 1, SD only 1. Sorry, I don’t believe in quotas, but respect the views of those who do.”  When CharityChicks asked him to explain ‘SD’, he tweeted back: “Sexual Discrimination”.

Katie Grey, a fundraiser at disaster relief charity RedR, added: “How depressing, only one woman on this list of top fundraising professionals in the UK.”

Pegram tweeted in response: “Not a list of top fundraising professionals, a list of the people best able to make each point as the premise unfolds.” He later wrote: “Summit is more about wisdom, rock solid experience, and years of practice. Sorry.”

More women fundraisers joined in to challenge Pegram, among them Denisa Casement, Lesley Pinder and Kirsty Connell.  Connell, fundraising manager at IdeasTap, said: “Women are half of fundraising directors now – their leadership on the ground should be reflected in thinking, imho.”

Pegram replied: “If that’s right, why do you say not involved in thinking?”, to which Connell said: “Because panels like The Summit are too frequently male dominated! Thought, discussion, etc not representative.”

Debate 'straight out of 1980'

At that point Denisa Casement chipped in: “This conversation feels straight out of 1980. Is the UK sector like this or is this an aberration?” And Pegram replied: “It may be just me”.

On another thread, Pegram wrote: “I promise I’ll put on a conference with just young female speakers, that is relevant to that group.”  Casement replied: “So does that mean that nothing the men have to say is relevant to women in fundraising? That sounds a bit silly.”

And in a conversation with Connell and Pinder, he wrote: “Assuming no glass ceiling middle manager women are going to be at the top in ten years. Tanya Steele and Kath Abrahams.”

Steele is currently director of fundraising at Save the Children and Abrahams has just been appointed as director of engagement and income generation at Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

'The researchers happen to be men'

Speaking to this morning, Pegram explained the Summit programme was based on market research and academic research, and the people that have done that research happen to be mostly men.

He said: “Women are not under-represented in fundraising nor indeed in management positions in fundraising, but they are not yet adequately engaged in the thinking that goes on within fundraising.”

He added that the other notable thing about the speakers is that “they’re all the old guard”.  And the women that occupy the 42 per cent of fundraising director posts at the UK’s biggest charities are all younger women.  But it is only a matter of time, he said, before those women do play a bigger role in the thinking on fundraising.

“In fact I think in 20 years’ time the danger could be the other way, that there will almost be more women,” he said. “Women have more emotional intelligence than men and increasingly fundraising is about relationships, not about techniques. So I think we will see women taking over.”

Asked to explain his comment about Steele and Abrahams, Pegram said: “It’s the distinction between the thinking and the management. They are in senior management but they are really just concerned with the operations. They need to become, and they will become, because it’s bound to happen, more involved in the thinking. They’re going to become the next generation of the great and the good.”

The speakers at the event include Ken Burnett, Alan Clayton, Bernard Ross, Joe Saxton, and auditor Pesh Framjee.

Adrian Sargeant
Professor of Fundraising
Indiana University
9 Feb 2013

The views expressed on the Civil Society website this week are not my views and neither are they the views of any of our speakers nor any of the organisers of the Summit. Any suggestion that they might be we find unacceptable. Gender stereotypes obviously have no place in the voluntary sector and nor anywhere within the profession of fundraising. While Giles has rightly issued a full and heartfelt apology for his unwitting remarks and any distress that he might inadvertently have caused, in light of the way his comments have been interpreted and reported we think it would be inadvisable and practically difficult for us to continue with the Summit, at least in its current format. Anyone who has registered to date will therefore be contacted and offered a full refund.

The other speakers, and Giles, have supported us fully in this decision.

I'd like to offer my personal thanks to Denisa Casement, Tanya Steele and others for the kindness and sensitivity they have shown in working to resolve this. I am most grateful.

While accepting Giles Pegram’s sincerely-held and full apology we would record that this unfortunate series of misunderstandings in no way diminishes the huge regard with which Giles Pegram CBE is held by the organisers and the proposed speakers at this event. Giles’ contribution to the shape of modern fundraising in this country and elsewhere is second to none and we have no doubt that he will continue to make a valuable contribution to our profession for years to come.

Adrian Sargeant, for the organisers.

Beth Upton
7 Feb 2013

Putting aside the gender issue for a moment, I ask how a Summit about the future of fundraising can not include a single currently practising fundraiser? In Giles' own words, "the Summit is.....about wisdom, rock solid experience, and years of practice" and much of that must come from current coal-face experience. There are awesome women, two of whom have been mentioned and more of whom I could list, who could add significant value. There are also awesome men who are hard working and insightful practising fundraisers who I am sure could add value too.

Alistair Heron
7 Feb 2013

I joined in with the 'twittercism' on this particular subject - and I'm most definitely a bloke! Much of my career was spent within fundraising management, although I'm currently on another path, and I find Giles' comments utterly gobsmacking.

As the man himself concedes, 42% of Director posts at the top UK charities are held by woman. I'd hazard a guess that an equivalent proportion of the sector's inspiring thinking and excellent leadership also emanates from here. It's certainly my experience that female fundraisers, on average, are no better or worse than their male counterparts. What a revelation.

Robbie Rae
7 Feb 2013

It's a great shame that Giles has become the face of this debate.

A greater champion of equality you could not wish to meet.

It is very difficult on a subject as emotive as this to say something without it being seized upon. I'm certain the take-out of this article is not what Giles intended.

But journalism will do that. And twitter will certainly fan the flames.

The worst offence here, if any, is being a little bit out of date. But I honestly believe there must be more deserving subjects to whom the industry can focus any invective on this important subject.

It would be a shame if this turned out to be people's view of one of the best fundraisers of a generation. A man who, as anybody who has dealt with him will testify, is a perfect gentleman.

For a supposedly caring industry, it can be very hostile some times.

Rowena Lewis
Director of Fundraising
7 Feb 2013

How very disappointing. Next you'll be telling us females to retreat to the kitchen sinks from whence we came. I'm sorry Giles but you should know better than this. To think, let alone say out loud, that women fundraisers are not capable of 'adequate thinking'.

May I ask if the other speakers - Ken Burnett, Alan Clayton, Bernard Ross and Pesh Framjee - are inclined to support with Giles' sexist stance towards his peers?

Lucy Caldicott
Director of Fundraising
CLIC Sargent
7 Feb 2013

The flawed thinking behind these comments is just shocking in 2013.

It's simply untrue that "wisdom, rock solid experience, and years of practice" only reside with men

Denisa Casement
Head of Fundraising
Merchants Quay Ireland
7 Feb 2013

There are some terrific people presenting at The Summit with some very important research and tools for addressing donor retention. Unfortunately, the limited network of the "old boys", who are organizing, has given the impression that there are no women contributing to the focus on donor retention. This line-up also gives the impression leadership in the charity sector is primarily male.

Nothing could be further from reality.

Kathryn Brooke at Charity Chicks posted a great blog on the subject. Her points about the lack of both women and actual fundraisers is spot on.

I've decided to attend - because this conference brings together five experts that I am excited to see in the same room. It could be vastly improved by the addition of more women with expertise in donor retention. In particular, women with" boots on the ground" experience in implementation of best practice. Many of us (of all genders) have been working hard on donor retention. We are already taking all the excellent research and beginning to apply it. The results are brilliant and I'm eager improve and fine tune further.

I've chosen to overlook the patronising arrogance and disconnect from reality in order to focus on what I think is really important.

I also plan to continue this conversation in person with Giles and Adrian (who has been strangely silent). Dinosaurs don't scare me.

Joe Saxton
7 Feb 2013

For the sake of clarity I am not speaking at this conference and withdrew a couple of weeks ago.

James Fyfield
7 Feb 2013
Response to [Joe Saxton]

That's the sound of a ship sinking, then!

Chris Askew
7 Feb 2013

Oh dear; when we hired Kath, I was quite hoping for some thinking from her!! Of course she's a thinker, and a leader; she is a thinking, passionate, operationally-experienced leader in fundraising at the very top of her profession right now (and she is not alone as a woman in that). And besides that, she is - as is any Director of a charity - a key contributor to our overall strategy. And alongside Kath, we have many other 'thinking' and 'operating' fundraisers who play a part in our development as an organisation (is there really a doing or thinking divide in any fully functional organisation?). As to whether she, or any of us, make it into the 'great and good', is really down to how well we serve our donors and our beneficiaries, I'd suggest. Yours / Kath's boss

Barney Hosey
Managing Partner
8 Feb 2013
Response to [Chris Askew ]

I quite agree. The assumption that thinking and doing are in some way disciplines that should exist apart, is misguided IMO. Surely the management philosophy of any progressive organisation should be to empower people to solve problems not divide people into 'thinking' and 'doing' communities. Everyone, regardless of role everyone surely be encouraged to think! The concept of earning the right to 'think' after a right of passage in 'doing' is very old school...

Rowena Lewis
7 Feb 2013
Response to [Chris Askew ]

Hear hear!

Peter Lewis
7 Feb 2013

I'm afraid anyone who thinks that Tanya Steele and Kath Abrahams are not important thinkers in fundraising is simply out of touch

Dave Brown
7 Feb 2013

The pomposity of the event title and the people involved makes clear it is about self-promotion and self-aggrandising rather than genuine thinking. There are tons of female thinkers on fundraising, as evident on Twitter, such as Beth Breeze, Lucy Gower and Beth Upton to name but three.

I wouldn't bother putting money in the pockets of these outdated dinosaurs as they clearly don't know what they're talking about.

7 Feb 2013
Response to [Dave Brown]

couldn't agree more

particularly like it when he says "they’re going to become the next generation of the great and the good"

rather implies he considers himself to be part of the current "great and good"

how distasteful to bestow that accolade upon oneself!!!

Old School
7 Feb 2013


It is patronising to both men and women that women are described as having "more emotional intelligence" than men.

So women have only soft, "relationship" skills? And men can't emote?

Time to bury the dinosaurs, I say.

Sally Campbell
Trusts and Grants Manager
8 Feb 2013
Response to [Old school]

I agree. These lazy stereotypes are incredibly unhelpful. So what if these comments have been "seized upon" or are defended as off the cuff remarks, what they betray is an utterly outdated attitude. When the gatekeepers and 'leaders' of our sector hold attitudes like this it hardly bodes well for the rest of us.


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