I was delighted to be able to connect with the Fundraising community in the Midlands during the West Midlands conference earlier this month. It was lovely to walk in and receive a warm welcome from the Chair, Sally Insley, and committee member Nikki Wrench, who quickly introduced me to the committee. I was there to deliver the afternoon plenary, Fi Harrison delivered the formal introductions, and I was very reassured that Olly Du Croz was on hand for IT support. Thank goodness for his skills because the technical gremlins did try to derail the presentation, so I’m grateful that he was able to resolve them without too much trouble.
Standing in front of experts and specialist fundraisers within the sector can be nerve-wrecking but it was nice to see that the composition of our sector is changing. This was reflected by the presence of different faces, an indicator of the variety of people’s lived experiences starting to become more frequent amongst our sector. As I started my presentation on 'the power of difference in fundraising', I noticed that those faces were staring back at me with a mixture of enthusiasm, zest and an appetite to learn. This is what excites me most about the sector, that we are progressing and inviting more diversity on all levels and acknowledging that we need to do better to become an equitable and inclusive sector. My aim was to highlight to peers that the onus cannot be placed on minority groups - whether that was as my example by focusing on ethnicity, or indeed any protected characteristic, to carry this heavy responsibility. The data shows that they are outnumbered, at risk of getting ignored, ostracized and in the worst cases wrongfully removed from their jobs. Therefore, this responsibility needs to be a combined and collaborative effort, especially for those individuals who have agency, and power. Our colleagues and indeed all in the sector need to use their agency to speak up, leverage opportunities and challenge the harmful, divisive practices and policies that still exist within the fabric of the sector.
My closing words to the fundraising community that I’m proud to be a part of were as follows: What would you do differently to ensure that the sector is inclusive, equitable and diverse? We know what the data says, we have read the reports, and I am sure some are tired of the conversations- but the onus remains on all of us to not stop the conversations until meaningful change is implemented. Therefore, I’m asking you the same question, what are you going to do differently to ensure that you are part of that progressive change – what can you do to turn words into action and support the fundraising sector to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive?
A link to the plenary, the power of difference in fundraising, is available here.