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Stephen Cotterill: Lack of diversity in fundraising is still a key failing

13 Nov 2018 Voices

Fundraising must be careful not to lapse into paying lip service and tokenism when it comes to diversity.

In another year of ups and downs for fundraising, it’s great to be able to run a project such as our 25 Under 35 feature. It’s good news; it’s great fun; and above all else, it is hopeful.

However, as well as championing the sector’s young talent, the project does shine a light one of fundraising’s key failings, namely diversity.

This was an open nomination platform – from the sector for the sector – and there were only nine people put forward by fundraising professionals that were from BAME backgrounds. You can shoot the messenger as often as you want, but this reflects the current state of the industry.

This month the Institute of Fundraising publishes its Manifesto for Change intended to address the lack of diversity in the sector. Having spoken to several people who sit on the IoF’s Panel for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which was behind the report, I have hopes that this is at least a step in the right direction. The prospect is that it will contain concrete examples of replicable efforts that have truly had an impact on the staff demographics at charities. If it fails to do that and lapses once more into paying lip service and tokenism, it will be a massively wasted opportunity.

Having said that, fundraising must not let the desire for diversity cloud judgement and appreciation of the talent already prevalent in the sector. Not just the final 25 in our list, but a large proportion of the nominations for this issue’s cover feature were for people doing great work all over the country for causes they are passionate about. Fundraising should be proud of that; it just needs to better reflect the communities it serves.



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