Fundraising recruitment is broken.
The Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Change Collective report, ‘Who Isn’t in the Room?’, shone a light on the enormous challenges the fundraising profession faces when it comes to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. The results make uncomfortable reading – the fundraising profession is less diverse than both the UK society and the wider charity sector. BAME people and disabled people are particularly under-represented in our profession, while there is also anecdotal evidence to suggest the profession is disproportionately middle class. Put simply, the fundraising profession doesn’t reflect the beneficiaries or the donors we work with.
At the same time – when great fundraisers are needed more than ever – charities are reporting that they are finding it increasingly difficult to find talented people for their teams.
We believe six words are contributing to these problems: “Must be Educated to Degree Level”
By making it a requirement for applicants to have an unspecified degree organisations are slamming the door in the faces of talented fundraisers simply because – for whatever reason – they didn’t go to university.
This requirement affects some more than others. It is no coincidence that the same groups currently under-represented in the fundraising sector are the groups least likely to go to university. A 2018 report by the UK Government found that “Students from disadvantaged backgrounds, low income households, care-leavers, mature students, disabled students and students from some ethnic minority groups have a much lower participation in higher education than students from other groups”. Research shows that young people from the UK’s most disadvantaged postcode districts are nearly four times less likely to go to university than those in the most advantaged areas. By prioritising graduates over everyone else the fundraising profession is inheriting these inclusion and diversity challenges from the higher education sector.
Fundraising is a skilled job
Our teams need both critical and creative thinkers. Strategists and story-tellers. Enquiring minds and empathic hearts. Resilience and flexibility. Listeners and communicators. Leaders and team players.
Studying for a degree is one way fundraisers can acquire these skills…but it's not the only way.
There are many reasons – through choice or through circumstance – why some talented people don’t go to university. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be incredible fundraisers. For some, overcoming the challenges in their personal life that prevented them from going to university often provides them with the very same skills needed to be an excellent fundraiser.