Let’s use this crisis to make a fairer and more equal society now

21 April 2020
LeadershipEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
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Peter Lewis sets out why the Chartered Institute of Fundraising has signed up to the #CharitySoWhite open challenge to the sector, and says that crises – such as the coronavirus pandemic – give society opportunities as well as challenges.

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s vision is “Excellent Fundraising for a Better World”, and through our #ChangeCollective work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion we have been absolutely clear that for an organisation to deliver excellent fundraising it has to have equal, diverse and inclusive teams. That is because we know more equal, more diverse and more inclusive teams will deliver better fundraising.

The same goes for society as a whole. A more equal, diverse and inclusive society is better not just for those who are currently disadvantaged. It is better for all of us.

I am proud that the Chartered Institute of Fundraising has signed up to the #CharitySoWhite open challenge to the sector, asking for 20% of the funding to go to BAME led organisations; and for at least 2 people known to champion race equality in funding to be on decision-making panels.

Funders have come together in ways we have never seen before to address the needs Coronavirus has exposed for the most vulnerable in society. It is a crisis that has brought people and communities together but we know that people from BAME communities, because of how society is structured and the prejudice and racism within it, experience, amongst other things, higher levels of unemployment, disproportionate representation in our prison population, greater health inequalities. The list goes on.

Tragically we also know that people from BAME communities are more likely to be affected by, and die from, coronavirus.

Our response as a sector, funders and charities delivering services, must ensure we do not entrench poor practice in the emergency response to get vital funds out as quickly as possible. None of this is business as usual so let us avoid falling back on our comfort zone of working just with and funding who we already know.

We know that the BAME voluntary sector receives a disproportionately low percentage of the funding into the sector, while we also know people from BAME communities are disproportionately likely to volunteer and give. We also know that, and perhaps this is especially the case in the current environment, larger organisations often say that they will meet the needs of particular communities, but often lack the knowledge or expertise to do so.

We also know that targets can drive positive funding outcomes from an equalities perspective. I’ve seen this myself in my time at the GLA when targeting funding from the London Development Agency, and also, in a more adversarial situation on behalf of the sector, when LVSC successfully supported the judicial review of London Councils Grants Scheme for breaching the Equalities Act in the way it reduced its grant programme. We know that setting targets drives change.

However, as in many crises, they give us opportunities as well as challenges. We have an opportunity now, in the funding that is made available to the sector, whether for emergency relief, recovery or renewal, to begin to redress that balance, and to begin to right some of those injustices.

Let’s use this crisis to begin to make a fairer and more equal society now and for future of which we can all be proud.

Peter Lewis
Peter Lewis
Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising
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