Advancing social justice, education and health

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By Andrea McManus
AFP Women’s Impact Initiative Task Force
Partner, ViTreo Group Inc., Calgary, Alberta

The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP)/Globe and Mail special supplements on philanthropy are among the most important publications for the charitable sector every year because they highlight the vital work charities perform every day throughout the country. By focusing on the generosity and dedication of donors, along with the impact of our country’s charitable sector, we educate readers, thank donors and hopefully inspire many others to get involved.

In this edition – beyond celebrating philanthropy in Canada – we are also taking the opportunity to raise awareness of measures AFP is taking to address serious workplace concerns including women’s equality and sexual harassment, which, as the #MeToo movement has shown, are present in virtually all aspects of society. Sadly, this includes the charitable and professional fundraising sector.



To be clear: the vast majority of charities work tremendously hard on behalf of their cause in an ethical manner, and most donors act respectfully and are committed to the charities they support. Philanthropy is a critical and vibrant part of Canada’s social fabric, and we should all celebrate its impact in our country.

Last year AFP created the Women’s Impact Initiative (WII), an 18-month initiative to assess, address and highlight specific issues and challenges faced by women in the fundraising profession. 

WII is today working to move people to action by building templates for respectful workplace policies and sharing them industry-wide. For instance, this includes teaching employees to come forward with their concerns, and urging management to respond promptly and compassionately. 

WII has also conducted valuable research on harassment in fundraising and the gender salary gap, and created guidance on supporting women in the workplace and fostering male allyship. You can learn more at afpidea.org/wii.

Among the highlights, recent AFP research revealed that:

One-quarter of all women in the profession have been harassed in the workplace (as well as seven per cent of men), with a majority of the abusers (66 per cent) being donors.

While women represent 70 per cent of the fundraising profession, they account for only 30 per cent of senior positions.

Holding for all other factors, female fundraisers in general make 10 per cent less than their male counterparts.

These are shocking statistics with far-reaching consequences for the charitable sector and our country. The impact is also personal, affecting countless women and men who face these situations. They are often faced with a stark choice: tolerate inappropriate behaviour or reject a donation. Protect your dignity or protect your charity.

Many women and men from across the country have faced similar circumstances. Other colleagues harbour stories about being passed up time and again for a promotion, despite their significant experience, competency and proven success. Others still face the indignity of knowing that a male colleague with fewer years of experience earns a higher salary. 

Our sector – and our country – can and must do better.

To be clear: the vast majority of charities work tremendously hard on behalf of their cause in an ethical manner, and most donors act respectfully and are committed to the charities they support. Philanthropy is a critical and vibrant part of Canada’s social fabric, and we should all celebrate its impact in our country.

But, as WII illustrates, it’s also apparent that we all need to look at our sector – not just for what we achieve, but how we conduct ourselves. When we see a problem – a co-worker being harassed, for example – we must embrace a responsibility to help them, as we would our friends, families and others in need. Or if we see a peer acting in an irresponsible or harmful manner, do we have the courage to say something? It is time to speak up, speak out and be a part of a positive change for a better world.

The Women’s Impact Initiative is just one of many important projects happening in the charitable sector and across Canadian society to address these issues. We welcome others to join us in this important conversation and socially progressive movement.


About 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents more than 3,500 Canadian fundraisers and charities, and over 31,000 around the world, partnering with donors and volunteers to change the world through ethical and effective fundraising. 

AFP helps its members raise more than $100-billion annually for a wide variety of causes through advocacy, research, education, mentoring and the most rigorous code of ethics in the profession.


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