The IoF will challenge organisations not doing enough on diversity, says chief executive

Launching the institute's diversity strategy, Peter Lewis also says that fundraisers who do not understand the need for diversity must be won over

The IoF's diversity strategy
The IoF's diversity strategy

The Institute of Fundraising is prepared to challenge any organisation it believes is not doing enough to promote diversity, its chief executive has pledged.

Speaking at the launch of the membership body’s diversity strategy, Peter Lewis also said that fundraisers who do not understand the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion must be won over.

As part of the strategy, called The Change Collective: an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy For the Fundraising Profession, the IoF pledged that in the next 18 months it would deliver EDI training for all of its staff, volunteers and trustees, commission research on women in leadership in fundraising and the under-representation of BAME people in fundraising.

At the launch, which took place as part of the IoF’s annual convention in central London, Lewis said one of the most important elements of the institute’s plans to diversify the sector was for the fundraising community to buy into it.

"We, the institute, cannot deliver this on our own," he said.

"This is about the behaviours out there in every single fundraising organisation around the country and the first and most important step is to get people to come on this journey with us."

Lewis said that the issue had been raised at a meeting of IoF group chairs that took place on Tuesday as part of the convention.

"We heard that some committees and some within the fundraising community do not think this is a priority for them – they don’t understand its relevance," he said.

"We have to win those people over, we have to talk to them about the business case, we have to talk to them about the moral case, we have to explain to them that as the front-of-house for charities around the country they have to be as diverse as the communities they’re serving, and as diverse as the donors out there."

Lewis added that the IoF board and the expert panel it assembled to create the strategy believed the institute needed to be proactive in ensuring organisations took action on diversity.

"If we need to challenge organisations that are not doing enough, we will challenge them and demand that they do better in relationship to this agenda," he said.

According to a survey carried out by the IoF as part of the strategy’s development, 9 per cent of the fundraising profession are from BAME backgrounds, 4 per cent of fundraisers are LGBT+, 76 per cent are female and 3 per cent have disabilities.

At the launch event Peter Fleet, the IoF’s EDI officer, who will project-manage the delivery of the strategy, defended his appointment.

In April, a number of IoF members, including members of Black Fundraisers UK, the IoF group that supports BAME fundraisers, expressed concerns about the decision to appoint a white man to the role and asked for details of the appointment process.

In a 15-minute interview as part of the 40-minute session launching the report, Fleet told delegates about his experience working at the IoF over the past six months, his previous experience, why he was right person for the role and how the criticisms had made him feel.

He said he believed he "was the best candidate for the job when it was advertised".

His initial response when concerns were raised, he said, was that he should get another job, but he reconsidered after deciding that "the interview process was rigorous and fair and the panel was very diverse".

He said: "What surprised me was that I thought some of the comments were personal."

Fleet said he acknowledged his privilege as a white man, but "people I’ve met understand I’m not there to represent them, but to make sure different organisations and protected groups have a platform and are heard, and are able to help us move our agenda forward".

The biggest effect, he said, had been on his family.

"I don’t want to use this as a defence, but my partner’s black, she’s from a Muslim family, she knows the challenges and the commitments that I’ve gone through around diversity and inclusion and she was quite upset about it."

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