KNOWLEDGE: Introducing our new project on Gender Issues in Fundraising

Caoileann Appleby introduces Rogare’s new project on gender in fundraising – why we’re doing it, what we hope we can achieve, and what we’re going to do.

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Gender in fundraising is an issue that had been simmering for many years before the #MeToo movement and the scandals of the Presidents Club fundraising dinner and Oxfam’s safeguarding failures caused it to boil over. Now there is evidence from the USA that something like 25 per cent of female fundraisers have been subjected to sexually inappropriate behaviour.

It is clear that as a profession we urgently need to tackle gender issues and work to improve how we protect and develop all fundraisers. Not only for our benefit, but also for our organisations and beneficiaries.

There are already initiatives in the USA and UK aimed at tackling diversity issues in fundraising, but we believe that we can bring our own perspective to the topic.

Rogare’s remit is to explore under-researched and ‘under-thought’ areas of fundraising. We want to provide a concrete knowledge base for raising awareness, identify the crucial issues within our fundraising profession, and discuss the causes and the way forward. This is how we approach all the issues we tackle, and this is how we intend to approach the challenges presented by gender in fundraising.

What are we doing?

We aim to:

  • provide a concrete knowledge base for raising awareness of gender issues and further discussing the issues, topics and questions within this which are particularly relevant to fundraising;
  • stimulate and facilitate discussion of how to solve these issues, based where possible on relevant theory and evidence from other sectors and disciplines.

Following Rogare’s usual way of operating, we want to bring more theory and evidence to the conversation so that discussions, and any recommendations that flow from them, are based on firm, evidenced foundations. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but to draw on and examine evidence and theory from other sectors and disciplines where we can.

We are not here to give definitive answers but to raise awareness of the issues, encourage better conversations and discussions grounded in better knowledge, and help point those of us eager to enact change towards the most effective ways to do that.

We have to be aware of how the different issues might play out and mean different things in different countries or cultures, even though all fundraising sectors appear experience some forms of these issues.          

Sounds good, what’s next?

We’ll introduce some common and useful terminology and definitions. Then we’ll briefly cover some of the major themes within the broader issue: sexual violence and harassment; leadership and visibility; career paths in fundraising. Each of these will then be explored in more depth in separate posts, along with an introduction to how feminist philosophy can inspire some new thinking in fundraising. 

We shall then be in a position to make evidence- and theory-based recommendations for change.

Caoileann Appleby is strategy director at Ask Direct based in Dublin, Ireland, and a volunteer and former trustee with UK charity Abortion Support Network. She is the Task Group leader for Rogare’s Gender Issues in Fundraising project.

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