Sector still has a talent crisis, says Children's Society fundraising lead

Joe Jenkins tells a conference run by Bond that attracting, keeping and developing the right people is a major issue that comes down to a lack of diversity

Joe Jenkins
Joe Jenkins

The charity sector is still facing a talent crisis, according to the head of fundraising at the Children’s Society.

Joe Jenkins, director of supporter impact and income at the children’s charity, last year wrote a blog post for Third Sector in which he warned that, although there were talented people in the sector, the talent pool was not growing fast enough to help the sector meet the challenges of the future.

Speaking at the Funding for Development conference, run by the international development network Bond in central London yesterday, Jenkins said he strongly believed the problem had still not been resolved.

He said the current environment, in which the expectations and demographics of charity supporters were changing, posed a challenge for the sector.

"My fundamental concern is that right now, as a sector, we don’t have the talent we will need in order to be able to square up to that challenge," he said.

He said that attracting, keeping and developing talent was a major concern among colleagues he had spoken to in the sector, and the issue came down to a lack of diversity.

"The single biggest challenge we face if we want to be relevant in the 21st century is a lack of diversity, but the single biggest opportunity we have is to diversify our teams, our thinking, our ideas and the people whom we work together with in order to make change happen," he said.

Jenkins said one of the challenges with diversity was the sector’s tendency to consider it as an ethics and reputation issue rather than something that was core to achieving its mission.

"If we don’t have a range of different ideas, thoughts, backgrounds and leadership models, we’re not going to be relevant to the changing environment that we’re operating in," he warned.

He said the sector needed a diverse range of skills, such as entrepreneurialism and digital and commercial skills, as well as a range of lived experience to achieve its mission in the decades ahead.

"At the moment we’re struggling to bring those skills into our organisations and make the most of them," Jenkins said.

He added that the existing model of leadership within the sector, with "bureaucratic hierarchies" and separate departments, was "designed for the 20th century" and no longer fit for purpose.

"We need a different way to think about leadership at all levels, and we need different people in those leadership roles," he said.

"If we’re going to find ways to be relevant, if we’re going to be able to adapt to and find different ways to engage, then we need to think very differently about who is on our teams."

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