The Fundraiser - Practical advice and insight for the charity sector

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Who are you? Diversity in Fundraising

The charity sector spends a lot of time championing the rights of others, but how diverse is the fundraising profession itself? A diversity report from the Institute of Fundraising examines the question of who we really are.


In December last year the Institute of Fundraising published the first ever report into the diversity of the fundraising profession. Based on a survey of almost 1,500 fundraisers, we asked questions about personal characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity and sexuality, as well as finding out fundraisers’ views on diversity, and tried to identify any potential barriers for people becoming fundraisers or progressing to more senior roles. 

The results contained in Who’s Doing the Asking: Diversity in the Fundraising Profession paint a mixed picture. While there were some positives, particularly the high levels of people (71 per cent) agreeing that there are significant benefits to their organisation in having a diverse workforce, other areas show clearly that there is more work to be done – our research found that the fundraising workforce is less diverse, with fewer people from ethnic minorities and fewer people with disabilities working as fundraisers, than the general workforce of the voluntary sector. For example, 5 per cent of respondents to our survey considered themselves to have a disability - a much lower ratio than the findings reported in the Voluntary Sector Workforce Almanac which found that almost one-fifth (18 per cent) of the voluntary sector workforce had a disability.


Seniority and career progression

There were also some interesting, if a little depressing, results when we looked at the relationship between diversity and seniority. 74 per cent of the respondents to the survey were women, but when we looked at job roles, we found that men are more likely than women to be working at senior levels in fundraising. Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of males were working as directors/CEOs compared to just under a tenth (9 per cent) of women. 

We also tried to gain insight into how people from different backgrounds had started out in fundraising, and how easy it had been for them to progress in their careers. The results showed that fundraisers from non-white backgrounds are more likely than white fundraisers to have worked in an unpaid fundraising role early in their career (either internships or voluntary placements). Also, when asked questions on how easy it was to get a first job in fundraising, and to progress to more senior roles, people from BME backgrounds gave lower scores than people from white backgrounds. Taken together, these findings indicate that people from non-white backgrounds find it harder, and have to do more, to get into fundraising.


What can we do?

We at the IoF want to ensure that fundraising is the best profession that it can be for all people who want to work raising money for good causes. Where barriers are identified that may be preventing groups of people from joining the profession, or being able to achieve the most senior roles, we hope to work with our members so these are as accessible as possible to all. 

We see this research as being the start of the conversation. It’s highlighted areas that need to be looked at in more depth, and we want to keep building the evidence base, as well as work on some specific areas such as redressing the gender imbalance at senior levels and the routes into fundraising by people from different ethnic groups. 


Download the full report Who’s Doing the Asking: Diversity in the Fundraising Profession


Daniel Fluskey is head of policy and research at the Institute of Fundraising

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