Fundraisers need to challenge sexist behaviour and comments from donors and other members of staff, according to Victoria Ward, the head of fundraising at the British Youth Council.
Ward led a session at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention in central London yesterday, looking at what fundraisers could learn from the mobile dating platform Tinder by engaging donors online initially before swiftly moving on to a face-to-face meeting.
But despite the humorous tone of the session, she said, donor engagement should never come at the expense of fundraisers’ safety.
"It’s really important for us, men and women, to address these issues head on," she said.
"For example, a female fundraiser being told that she would get a major gift if she spent time alone with a major donor is never OK. It’s also never OK for another member of staff to say to you ‘what did you do to get that donation?’, with the implication that something other than your job occurred."
Ward said she had spoken to many female fundraisers and a few male fundraisers who had experienced such comments or situations.
"We as a group have a responsibility to address these comments calmly and clearly – if we get these comments or if we overhear them, not just if they are directed at us," she said.
"I think we also have a duty to educate other fundraisers coming into the profession about their safety and how no donation is worth more than they are as a member of staff.
"No donation should ever be at the expense of a fundraiser’s integrity."
Ward said her comments were not a call for fundraisers to stop building relationships with donors, because that was central to a fundraiser’s role.
But she added: "We also need to be building relationships with fundraisers into the sector, encouraging them and educating them about this wonderful profession."