It’s just not fair!

We fundrais­ers must lead the way. Be part of the change and let’s make fundrais­ing gender-fair!

Written by
Joe Burnett
February 23, 2017

On November 30, SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT) featured a talk by Lizzi Hollis, a corporate account manager at Independent Age and, more importantly for us, a campaigner for gender equality. On October 26, Lizzi electrified a Future of Fundraising meeting in London highlighting the severe gender imbalance in the voluntary sector. And it’s not just a UK issue.

SOFII readers may recall that Ask Direct’s fundraising summer school in Ireland in September featured a long-overdue debate on this very issue, with top female fundraisers Rory Green, Simone Joyaux, Niamh Ferris and Jen Love. One after the other these women clearly exposed the grave disparity between men and women in terms of salary and boardroom representation in our sector, but also gave a rallying cry that we can make things better.

The stark reality of the imbalance is shocking:

Source: Rowena Lewis, Clore Close to Parity Report,UK, 2010.
Source: Charlotte Rogers, Marketing Week Salary Survey 2017

In no walk of life are men 22 per cent more competent than women, let alone in a profession like fundraising, a sector comprised overwhelmingly of women.

Sexual harassment is a crime and cannot be accepted in any workplace, regardless of the sector.  

Let’s not beat around the bush here – as a sector we set the standard on issues of justice, fairness and equality around the world. So we need to do better.

As with her Future of Fundraising talk, Lizzi pulled no punches in her IWITOT 2016 presentation either, which focused on education for women and girls. Elsewhere, The Agitator warns that we are driving women out of fundraising; UK consultant, Matthew Sherrington has asked how men can take stock of their privilege and there was also hot debate on the same subject at the International Fundraising Congress 2016 on Fixing Gender Imbalance.

The time has come for change.

SOFII is opening up this discussion to all women working in fundraising. We want to hear about your experiences in the sector, the issues you think need addressing and how, together, we can create a gender-fair industry.

This is an issue that is getting increased attention and rightly so. But is that attention being converted into action? And above all, how do we get to a point when we can say ‘no more’?

Over the coming weeks or months (as long as it takes), SOFII is going to run a series of features and articles giving space to women fundraisers and NGO employees to share their experiences and express how we can change the situation.

NGOs are at the forefront of making the world a better place, so it is unacceptable that there should be such disparity between men and women in our organisations. SOFII is dedicated to making sure that we, as a sector, start practising what we preach. We should be leading the way on this and other issues of diversity, not lagging behind.

Photo courtesy of Niamh Ferris, Rory Green, Simone Joyaux and Jen Love – fixing the gender imbalance in fundraising discussion at Ask Direct Summer School, September 2016.

We can’t do this without you, SOFII’s readers, so please get in touch at if you want to share your experiences,  join in the debate and especially if you have an idea of how to make the sector better. Fundraising as we know it would not exist without women and can only get better if we are equal. So let’s get the ball rolling!

About the author: Joe Burnett

Joe Burnett

Joe Burnett (he/him) cut his teeth as an intern at the Association of French Fundraisers, he then embarked on a career in advertising before returning to where his heart lay: in the charities sector. Joe is passionate about fundraising and how it can be a force for positive change in the world. 

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