President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message Takeover: Women’s Equality Day

Paid Advertisement
Women's Equity Day

Kathy Rabon, CFRE, CFRM, Chair of AFP IDEA Women’s Impact Initiative 
Othalene Lawrence, M.S., CDE, Head of AFP IDEA 
Diane Lebson, CFRE, Chair of AFP IDEA Women’s Impact Initiative Mentoring Committee

Women’s Equality Day is August 26.
But every day, AFP works to empower women in our profession.

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day and this year’s theme calls for us to #embraceequity. August 26 was selected as Women’s Equality Day because it was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit states and the federal government from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. When President Nixon issued the first proclamation to recognize this day in 1972, he stated:

“Today, in virtually every sector of our society, women are making important contributions to the quality of American life. And yet, much still remains to be done.”  [1]

More than 50 years after the first Women’s Equality Day was celebrated, much still remains to be done. AFP is mindful of this reality and it is the reason why the Women’s Impact Initiative (WII) was launched in 2018 under the leadership of Tycely Williams, CFRE, who today serves as an at-large director of AFP Global.

Since our launch in 2018, WII has accomplished the following milestones:

  • Conducted ground-breaking research on sexual harassment and gender pay inequity in the fundraising profession.
  • Created new educational materials, including fact sheets, videos, workbooks, toolkits, and webinars, on all aspects of gender equity and equality.
  • Developed new policies and procedures for use by the association and to be used as a model for charities around the world.
  • Launched mentorship, executive coaching, and cultural awareness programs to advance women’s issues.
  • Inspired thousands of women and their allies to stand up, speak out, and take action as we work to create a profession that is equitable, inclusive, diverse, and effective. [2]

And yet, much still remains to be done. Fundraising think tank, Rogare, has studied the issues women face in the profession and categorized them into three segments: sexual harassment and violence; lower pay; and the glass ceiling. Note the following facts:

  • A 2018 survey among fundraisers by The Chronicle of Philanthropy (Sandoval 2018) revealed that 25 percent of female fundraisers have faced sexual harassment while doing their job and 96 percent of these harassers were men (donors or prospective donors, board members, managers, or colleagues).
  • The gender pay gap is greater in the fundraising sector. While it is 18.2% on average across all jobs, in fundraising that pay gap is 19.5%.    
  • While nearly 75 percent of AFP members are women, recent data reveals that anywhere from 41-53 percent of leaders in senior management positions are men — hardly congruent with the composition of the profession. Moreover, the bigger the organization, the worse the gap and it begins at the top. In US nonprofit organizations with budgets of $50 million or more, only 18 percent had a female CEO. [3]

Earlier this month, the 2023 AFP Compensation and Benefits Report was released. The good news is that AFP analysis reveals that in the United States, the gender pay gap decreased from 24% in last year’s survey to 15% in this year’s. [4] While many variables converged to make this decrease in the pay gap possible, we believe that AFP mandating that all positions advertised in the AFP Career Center include pay ranges, was a significant factor. That said, we are not stopping there: we will continue to raise these issues until none of our colleagues battle harassment or violence on the job based on their gender, the gender pay gap is slammed shut, and the leadership of the nonprofit sector reflects the communities we serve. 

Regardless of your gender, please join us — with your help, we can reach these critical milestones more quickly. If you identify as a woman, please consider joining one of our workgroups that shares stories about women’s experiences in the profession, provides educational resources that empower organizations to strive towards equality in the workplace, and mentors the next generation of leaders. If you do not identify as female, please join us as an ally. Listen to people who confide in you that they have encountered harassment or violence in the workplace, and advocate on their behalf. Empower your female colleagues with the skills to negotiate for equitable pay. Identify female rising stars and invite them to join you in leadership. 

In advance of Women’s Equality Day 2023, we want to recognize the people with whom we serve on WII:

  • Meredith Brunen, Vice President for University Advancement and CEO of UWG Foundations, University of West Georgia
  • Lisa Schneider, CFRE, CFRM, Director of Development, Purdue University Northwest
  • Teresa Cheng, CFRE, Development Officer, Annual Fund & Stewardship, Seneca College
  • Alexis Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Alford Group
  • Alicia Coppley, CFRE, Senior Director of Philanthropy, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
  • Jennifer Dale, CNM, Director of Community Outreach and Philanthropy, Angela Hospice
  • Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, CEO and Co-Founder, The Capital Campaign Pro
  • Catherine Herter Ervin, Director of Advancement, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
  • Tula Gogolak, Manager, Development and Strategic Initiatives, Easterseals National Office
  • Heather Hu, Principal & Founder, HDH Advancement Group
  • Lucy Isham-Turner, CFRE, Director of Development, Family Services of the North Shore
  • Rachel Kirley, CFRE, Deputy Director, Development and Individual Giving, San Francisco Symphony
  • Lacey Kempinski, CFRE, Founder & Owner, Balanced Good
  • Adrienne Longenecker, CFRE, Executive Director, Colorado Rover Alliance
  • Tara Stone Medina, International Fundraising Consultant & Grant Writer, Tara Stone Medina Consulting, LLC
  • Angela Chan O’Donnell, MSW, Grant Writer
  • Miriam Pereira, CFRE, Chief Philanthropy Officer, STARability Foundation
  • Vanessa Seltzer, Director of Philanthropy, Arc Broward
  • Juliana Weissbein, CFRE, Associate Director, Development Operations, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

We also want to share our immense gratitude to Taryn Gold, AFP’s Vice President of Chapter Engagement & Membership, for her leadership and the Alford Group for their generous sponsorship of our mentoring program. Our profession is stronger because of you.

Canadian author, politician, and social activist Nellie McClung once said, “No nation ever rises higher than its women.” We’d like to riff on Nellie’s wisdom and assert that no profession ever rises higher than its women. Let’s lift up the fundraising profession by holding up the women who serve in it. 


[1] Proclamation 4236 – Women’s Equality Day, August 16, 1973, The American Presidency Project,

[2] Women’s Impact Initiative page on the AFP Global website,

[3] Caoileann Appleby, “Gender issues in fundraising - Part I: Understanding the issues,” Rogare, March 2022, 

[4] Brown, M. & Strawser, C. (2023). 2023 AFP Compensation and Benefits Study. Arlington, VA: AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.

Read More

11 Dec 2023 President's Perspective Blog
11 Dec 2023 Member Story
Paid Advertisement
Want The Latest AFP & Fundraising News Delivered To Your Inbox?Sign Up Now!

Recommended for You

Members: Sign in to view your personalized recommendations!

Sign in