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Women missing out on fundraising leadership roles, research shows

Women are missing out on leadership roles in fundraising due to a lack of work flexibility, appropriate health policies and prevalent gender stereotyping, according to new Change Collective research.
Released ahead of International Women’s Day, which takes place on 8 March, Missing Out: Understanding the female leadership gap in fundraising was commissioned by the IoF and carried out by Dr. Beth Breeze, Director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, and Dr. Elizabeth J. Dale, Assistant Professor in Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University, USA.
At today’s launch event, Carol Akiwumi, chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, said:

“I am committed to ensuring that the Change Collective strategy succeeds in making a positive difference across the charity sector so that the fundraising profession can be truly representative of the communities we serve. For a long time we have known that the sector has a problem in equal representation at senior levels when it comes to gender. We need to change that, and now is the time for action and transformation.”

Informed through almost 800 responses to an online survey, focus groups, and case studies, it explores the experiences and challenges women face in achieving equal representation at senior levels in fundraising in the UK.
The research found that while the salaries of male and female fundraisers begin around the same level, over the course of their careers the gap grows. In fact, amongst full-time workers, men reported current salaries 14.3% higher than women.
The main barrier for women in realising their leadership ambition is the availability of broad flexibility in relation to hours and working patterns. Women also experience a lack of recognition of, and appropriate policies to account for, the full range of women’s health needs, and are also far more likely than men to claim that they have experienced stereotyping and/or preconceptions based on their gender.
The report also provides recommendations for charities, fundraisers and the Institute to address barriers that female fundraisers face in their careers. These include for charities to invest in promoting and recruiting diverse candidates to boards and senior management, to educate their trustees about stereotyping and preconceptions based on gender, and to have a zero harassment policy for trustees, donors and staff within the organisation.
The report also recommends designing a working environment to suit those most in need of flexibility, and to be clear on flexible working conditions in job adverts.
The research is one of the key activities prioritised as part of the Change Collective strategy: the IoF’s campaign to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in the fundraising profession. It follows on from the ‘Who isn’t in the room’ report, which found that women are underrepresented in senior fundraising roles, despite the profession being predominantly made up of women.
Co-author of the report, Dr Elizabeth J. Dale, commented:


Recruiting and managing millennials, a course by Bruce Tait.

“It was troubling to see that gender stereotyping continues to be so prevalent, especially among donors and board members who undermine female fundraisers’ roles. This research calls on the entire sector, and society more broadly, to not only recognise women’s talent and leadership ambition but to rethink how to address tensions between work and family and create additional supports so that more women can obtain leadership roles.”

Dr Beth Breeze added:

“Clearly, the current career ladders in fundraising are not supporting all of the talented people who aspire to reach leadership roles. I hope the recommendations are read and taken seriously by all who are committed to strengthening the fundraising profession and its positive impact on society. Together we can make sure that talent rises to the top.”