Peter Lewis: The whole charity sector needs to help tackle inequalities

We need to create lasting change to make our sector more equal, diverse and inclusive. The fundraising community simply doesn’t reflect the communities we serve or our population; the fundraising profession is predominantly white and female, whilst in the top charities boards only 6.3% are from BAME backgrounds. We’ve known of the problem for a while, but it is now time to take action. Across the whole of the charity sector we can only deliver on our ambitions to truly achieve excellence by embracing equality, diversity and inclusion together.

There are a multitude of policies, actions and behaviours that we need to change. Some things we, at the IoF, can lead as the membership organisation for the fundraising community, but in some areas it’s a challenge that will need the support of the whole charity sector to embrace.

We will need trustees, CEOs and HR colleagues to support the changes we wish to see, lead and facilitate them. We need brave individuals in the sector at all levels to agitate for change; we need to support those agitators; and we need to come together as a movement to push for change. We need to drive that change together.

The IoF has taken its first proper steps on our journey with the launch of our Manifesto for Change last month. We want all fundraisers and their allies to work together to make fundraising a more equal, diverse and inclusive profession, where everyone is the right fit.

The Change Collective is a product of the thoughtful and inspiring conversations the IoF has been having over the last nine months with the support of an expert advisory panel on equality, diversity and inclusion, chaired by Sufina Ahmad. During this time, the group has had difficult, honest, and wide-ranging conversations that have created a solid foundation as we embark on this journey.

Most importantly, our conversations have highlighted that, throughout the profession, there is under-representation of BAME, LGBT+, disabled people and men, with unequal progression for women fundraisers. I’m excited to say that the Change Collective is all about changing that, shifting the sector from the inside out.

The guiding objectives and activities of the movement are set out in the ‘Manifesto for Change’, and the Change Collective, and from this a full strategy will be developed by July next year. But we can only do this with the help and support of the whole community.

The Manifesto outlines objectives and activities the IoF will undertake, many of which require the support and buy-in from the charity sector. We need the whole charity community and its full range of partners to join the journey too.

That’s why I’m calling on the support of chief executives and trustees, HR and finance colleagues, funders and corporate partners, to work with us to tackle inequalities at all levels within the fundraising community; to go that extra mile and spend those extra resources to deliver greater diversity within your fundraising teams and activities; to work continually to create inclusive environments where everyone can be the right fit for your fundraising teams; and you can then deliver truly excellent fundraising for the benefit of the vital causes you serve.

As a vital first step for the Change Collective, we need your support to assess the current make-up of the fundraising profession, better understand the barriers that exist within it, and work out what we, and our members, should prioritise to deliver a more inclusive and diverse fundraising community.

Supporting the fundraising community to become more equal, diverse and inclusive is not just one of the biggest challenges facing the fundraising profession. It is one of the biggest challenges for the whole charity sector. I hope you will join us on our journey. I hope you will become one of the #ChangeCollective.

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