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Diverse list of “brilliant charity speakers” is built over a weekend

Diverse list of “brilliant charity speakers” is built over a weekend

A practical tool to help boost the number of women speakers at charity conferences has been crowdsourced in just over a day. The Great Charity Speakers list presents charity conference organisers with a list of “fabulous, female speakers from the charity sector”.

The list was suggested by Mandy Johnson, who is CEO of the Small Charities Coalition.

On Friday evening she tweeted about the need for more in charity conference speakers, asking for suggestions for a list of “brilliant speakers from the charity sector who are not white & male”.

The appeal attracted rapid attention and plenty of replies. Johnson spent the rest of that evening trying to keep up with responses and producing the list. She has published “Great Charity Speakers” and updated it with new suggestions. It now has over 140 names featured.

The value of such a list beyond conference organisers was evidently recognised, given the number of individuals and organisations sharing the request for suggestions:


Women who inspire

The responses included individuals, with explanations about why they deserved to be on the list.

Some contributors also highlighted women who had inspired or supported them in their charity career:


Women speakers at upcoming conferences

Johnson’s request also yielded details of upcoming conferences and events that already featured a good number of women speakers. 


The initiative has also raised related issues and challenges:





A useable list

Johnson was careful to acknowledge fluidity in how people define their gender or ethnicity. She has therefore divided her list into two sections:

  • those “do not identify themselves as white or male”
  • and those “white people who do not identify as male”

There is currently a dominance of speakers with Twitter profiles but that is more a reflection of where Johnson first asked for suggestions. Other names are being suggested on charity sector Facebook discussion groups.

Johnson told UK Fundraising that she is keen to make the list as useful for conference organisers as possible. She has already divided its members into different skills and areas, to indicate why individuals have been recommended for inclusion.

As a result you can now find women CEOs and founders, finance experts, fundraising experts, service delivery experts, CSR experts, digital and tech experts, and more. Of course plenty of individuals could be listed in multiple categories so Johnson is considering how best to present this.

Some contributors helped in this process by highlighting why people were being recommended:


She acknowledges “It’s not perfect but it is a start” and she adds: “Please help me make it better.” She’s also been careful to build the list herself and not to open it up at this stage to multiple authors, to avoid possible trolls and attempts to damage the initiative.


Other supportive initiatives

The list is novel and should have been produced many years ago. The dominance of male and white speakers at many charity sector conferences has been plain to see.

Some event organisers have made progress in the area, and responses to the list announcement highlighted related developments, such as the I will not be part of male-only panels Pledge and the similar Manpanels pledge

No more excuses

However, as Johnson makes clear, her list is designed to change and expand the voices, the examples, and the inspiration that charity conferences present.

In introducing the Great Charity Speakers list she explains: “Too many times I am told that it is hard to find good speakers in the charity sector who aren’t male and/or white. I want to rid conference organisers of that excuse.”


Just be careful how you use the list…


Main image: Women in fundraising leadership panel at IoF Fundraising Convention 2017


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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