Advancing Philanthropy

From the Chair / The Women’s Impact Initiative

logo for AFP IDEA Women's Impact InitiativeI’ve been a member of AFP since 1993, and I’ve been so proud of many things that AFP has undertaken since that time. Important changes in our Code of Ethics, new educational programs that keep up with trends and innovation, and awareness campaigns to educate the public about fundraising and philanthropy—all of these have played critical roles in advancing our profession.

But I’ve never been more proud of AFP and our collective work than on this year’s International Women’s Day when we launched our new Women’s Impact Initiative.

Women have made incredible progress in the fundraising profession and in societies around the world. But the powerful impact of movements like #MeToo and Time’s UP demonstrate just how far we have to go to reach an equal and just society.

In fundraising, despite women representing a large proportion of the profession, relatively few are in leadership position. We see salaries for women that are consistently $15,000–$20,000 behind those of our male colleagues. And there are so many stories about harassment—sexual or otherwise—from bosses, colleagues, board members and donors that go back many years.

These issues are not always easy to discuss. Implicit bias forces us to look at ourselves and how we view the world. Harassment and salary inequity can be intensely personal. They require us to be vulnerable and open as we talk about them. But we can address them if we have the tools and resources—and we work together in an atmosphere of openness, inclusion and understanding.

That’s why AFP has launched the Women’s Impact Initiative—to provide these tools and resources. The initiative will provide skills and training so that fair and equitable salaries can be negotiated. It will provide resources to create workplaces that are against harassment in all its forms. It will provide mentoring programs, as well as research and other services, that can break barriers and create new opportunities for women.

The first major project of the Women’s Impact Initiative is a comprehensive survey of sexual harassment in the profession, conducted in partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy. More than 1,000 fundraisers from across the U.S. and Canada responded to the survey, so we have some solid data to analyze. Preliminary results from the survey will be announced in early April. We’ll be using data from that survey and other resources to develop anti-sexual harassment training and make it available to everyone in the profession.

The initiative will also involve many different types of educational programming—whether it’s partnering with other organizations already doing tremendous work, or developing webinars, blogs, and online module education. Two issues, among many, that we’ll be addressing along with harassment, include unconscious bias and salary negotiations.

But the most important part of this initiative is your participation and engagement. I encourage you to visit the website, www.afpidea/wii, which will house all of our resources, guidance, and links. We’ll be asking you to share your thoughts and stories as well. What have you or your organization done to make progress on this issue? What are some shining examples of organizations doing equity well? We will also be using the #WIILead hashtag for social media.

AFP’s goal with this initiative is to ensure that everyone in the profession—new or seasoned—operates in a professional culture of equity, equality, respect and fairness. That is a culture and environment that is missing for many women right now.

We also know that there are many others in the profession who are not working in this type of culture and environment. That’s why I’m equally pleased to announce that the Women’s Impact Initiative is just the first of many initiatives that will focus on different underserved and underrepresented groups within the fundraising profession and nonprofit sector. These are services and initiatives that will benefit everyone in the profession.

I’m very proud of AFP’s plans for not just providing education and networking, but for serving as a champion of the profession—for ensuring that we have a profession that represents the values and principles that we hold so dear. This initiative is just the first step—a critical first step—in that process, and I hope you’ll join us!

photo of Ann Hale

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