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28 Oct 16

Women in Fundraising

Flow Caritas recently hosted the latest in our series of Fundraising Meetups, on the topic of ‘women in fundraising’. There was a lot of discussion on a spectrum of topics that affect women in the charity fundraising workforce. The guest speaker was Lizzi Hollis, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Independent Age and founder of the Charity Women collective.

There were some fresh and engaging conversations about the role that women play in the charity workforce. Despite the fact that 70% of the sector is composed of women, only 16 women are listed as the top 50 influential fundraisers in the UK. How can we be doing more to recognise women’s contributions to fundraising? Why are there less women in leadership positions? Why is there still a gender pay gap?

Taking the long view, the answers to these questions can be traced back to the historical devaluation of women’s labour, despite how much has been achieved and how much there is still left to be done. But what are the pressing issues here and now? Below are just some of some of the topics that were touched upon.

Leadership

Pay inequality

Intersectionality

The meritocracy argument also came up quite a lot; if women were qualified enough for leadership positions they would be already in them. However, this view not only excludes the idea women who exhibit ‘leadership’ qualities; such as ambition, candor or confidence; can be perceived as bossy or bitchy, but is also ignorant of what is known as imposter syndrome.

Lizzi addressed all of these points and more in her talk, which (due to a weak WiFi connection) was partially livestreamed on the Flow Caritas Facebook page.

Where do we go from here?

Gender inequality in the charity sector is real and affecting women in fundraising in profound ways.  So how do we move forward?

Informed discussions and open spaces for conversation are vital to progress. So is female mentorship, women helping other women, ladies celebrating ladies. Movements like the Charity Women collective address this need and it was met with positivity from the meetup attendees.

There were multiple men in attendance who wanted to know how they could contribute without falling into the trap of ‘mansplaining’. While there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all approach, the simple act of listening and encouraging more women to speak out can make a difference.

It’s also easy for men to talk to women about their experiences with gender inequality, as women have a plethora of anecdotal evidence that it’s a problem they struggle with in their everyday lives. But do men talk to other men about these issues when women aren’t around? Is it something that they think about unless the women in their lives point it out? Food for thought.