Only taking risks with recruitment will improve fundraising diversity, says Oxfam director of engagement

Nicola Tallett says it's pressure from trustees to meet fundraising targets that makes fundraisers less brave as recruiters

Charity trustees have to be prepared to take risks with their fundraising targets if fundraising is going to improve diversity, Oxfam’s director of engagement has said.

Speaking at the Westminster Social Policy Forum conference on the Future of Charity Fundraising in central London yesterday, Nicola Tallett said pressure from trustees to meet annual fundraising targets meant fundraisers were less brave as recruiters.

She said this prevented people from diverse backgrounds coming into the sector because recruiters tended to go for the same pool of people who had previous experience.

"Our job as fundraisers in a hard market is complicated and trustees are quite rightly pushing us to reach our targets," she said.

"And in that circumstance, if you’ve got two candidates – one who is proven because they might have done it at another charity before and another who you might be bringing in from outside who might be a bit of a wildcard because they’ve not done it before – you’re going to go for the safe bet, like any recruiter."

Tallett said many fundraisers were concerned they would be criticised by trustees if they chose fundraisers with little experience.

"What this means is that we’re recruiting only from a pool of people who’ve done it before, and there’s a churn and it’s a virtual circle," she said.

"So somehow we have to break that and think about taking risks.

"Our trustees have to be thinking about how to empower people to take those risks, even at the risk of not hitting targets."

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