Pegram apologises for remarks about women in fundraising

Giles Pegram

Pegram apologises for remarks about women in fundraising5

Fundraising | Tania Mason | 8 Feb 2013

Giles Pegram has apologised unreservedly for his comments that women in fundraising are still confined to operations and management and not yet adequately involved in the profession’s thinking.

Yesterday reported various Twitter conversations that Pegram had had with female fundraisers about the lack of women on the speaker panel at a fundraising event he is organising with Professor Adrian Sargeant. His comments created a furore amongst fundraisers, as he was accused of being out of touch and sexist.

This morning he issued an apology.  He said: “I am dismayed and apologise unreservedly. I accept I have caused offence and I am deeply sorry. 

“I have nothing but the highest regard for the individuals I have inadvertently maligned, this is not what I intended or anything like it.

“I hope I will have an opportunity to show my regret and to make up for the upset I have caused.”

He added that some of the male speakers had offered to give up some or all of their speaking slots at the event for women fundraisers, and this was something the organisers were considering. “We could rethink the panel very easily,” Pegram said.

Ken Burnett: ‘I would give up my speaking slot for a woman’

Ken Burnett, who is billed to speak at the event, told this morning that it would be a tragedy if Pegram’s comments were to scupper the conference, and offered to relinquish his speaking slot for a female fundraiser if that would salvage it.

He said: “I’ve known Giles 30 years and he is not in any sense prejudiced or antiquated in his thinking. He has made a huge contribution to this sector and it would be such a shame if these ill-chosen remarks were to derail the event, not just for Giles personally but for the whole profession.”

Burnett said he had been invited to speak on the topic of “where we are going wrong in communications and how we can do things better”.  He added: “I would welcome half an hour to tell people my no-holds-barred opinions on that subject, which I think is of huge importance to the sector, and if this derails this event - which has otherwise been held as timely, important and very valuable - then that would be a tragedy.

“I would willingly give up my place on the platform, as would Alan Clayton, to one of the several eminent women in fundraising whose names have been mentioned in this story.

“I am not a dinosaur offering to commit euthanasia but equally I would have no hesitation in handing over to Tanya Steele and Kath Abrahams to come and say their bit. I would be honoured.”

Joe Saxton withdrew from event three weeks ago

Joe Saxton of nfpSynergy said that he emailed Pegram to withdraw from the speaker line-up three weeks ago, not because of the gender imbalance – “though I did say to Giles back at Christmas that it looks rather like an old farts’ conference - and I include myself in that” – but because he did not support the marketing message, did not wish to speak on the topic for which he had been assigned, and objected to the lack of practising fundraisers on the speaker panel.

Saxton said he was not comfortable with the event strapline “Raising extra billions”, feeling it was a bit crass, and he did not feel able to host a session on the subject of how unsatisfied donors are currently, as requested, because all nfpSynergy’s research suggests that most donors are pretty satisfied.

He also said he felt hesitant about the fact that none of the speakers were practising fundraisers.  “It makes me nervous when people who aren’t fundraisers tell people who are fundraisers how much more they could raise if only they did their job properly.

“I worry less about the women thing and more about the lack of young practitioners.  Where is that young head of fundraising saying 'this is what we’ve done and how we’ve done it'?”

Alan Clayton sought to distance himself from Pegram’s remarks of yesterday.  He said all six of his clients in London were “all directors of fundraising and all women and all innovating and at the forefront of thinking.  So I would totally disassociate myself from those comments.”


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Amanda Oxford
Development Director
National Osteoporosis Society
11 Feb 2013

As another fundraiser inspired by Giles and privileged enough to work with and learn from Giles I would completely endorse Kath Abrahams comments. And Jo Saxton's too - where are the up and coming gurus of tommorrow ? Step forward.

Charity Chicks
11 Feb 2013

Interesting and insightful debate from all – and incredibly important. important.

We wanted to make it clear that The Summit, not Giles, is what we wanted to discuss. Giles has given so much to our sector and is great fighter for equality. The Summit is just one an example of the problem, but not the problem. There is so much to discuss and improve around the issue of diversity in our sector.

Just me
8 Feb 2013

Well said Gemma. Just a shame Sexton felt the need to dis us old men by reference to elderly men as 'old farts'. Sexton admits he's one but he has no right to tar us all with his slander. He will grow-up and be old one day too. Let's hope Age UK drops him from their list of approved consultants. Equality for all, I say.

Kath Abrahams
Director of Engagement & Income Generation
Breakthrough Breast Cancer
8 Feb 2013

I hope this means we can now draw a line under this sad episode. This is a heartfelt apology from Giles which is very much in keeping with the man I know.

I have to say I read his comments yesterday with a mix of surprise and irritation. He made a misguided, patronising and wholly inaccurate distinction between those who think and those who do, unhelpfully positioning those who think on a higher intellectual plane. And then added fuel to the fire by turning the whole thing into a gender debate. Wince.

But Giles is a good man for whom I continue to have fondness and respect. We worked together through the Full Stop appeal. He was a supportive and empowering boss. I learned a great deal from him. And he was always willing to learn from others.

We all say the wrong thing from time to time. If we're lucky, we can simply have a conversation with the person concerned and say "Look I'm so sorry, I was wrong". If we're unlucky (and relatively new to social media) we choose to say the wrong thing on Twitter and end up having to take a full page ad in Civil Society to apologize.

Let's give the man a break. It would be sad if someone who has contributed so much over so many years to the sector was simply remembered for an error of judgement.

8 Feb 2013

Great to see this has been sorted out! As a young female fundraising officer, hearing the Pegram/Burnett/Clayton combo at a conference in 2011 was nothing short of inspirational and led to me getting a fundraising job in a charity where I can put into practice all the good donor relationship tips they gave me on that day (which really do work by the way!).

The sex of the speaker shouldn't matter when it comes to inspiring fundraisers in individual sessions but conferences have a duty to their delegates to give them a broad range of experiences - I think you can only get this by mixing up your speakers as much as possible!


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