Fundraising recruitment is broken.

The 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 four words are contributing to these problems: “Degree-level qualification required”

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 people don’t go to university. But just because university wasn’t the right path for them doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills, abilities and potential to be incredible fundraisers. In fact, there are many other ways people can acquire and refine these skills – both in their personal and professional lives.

We should be encouraging everybody with these skills to join the fundraising profession and help us to make the world a better place. Not turning them away simply because they don’t have a degree.

#NonGraduatesWelcome is encouraging the charity sector to change its mindset and drop this outdated and unnecessary requirement from its fundraising job descriptions. Rather than asking for unspecified degree qualifications we are calling on organisations to be clearer about the specific skills, knowledge and experience they require – both for the role and their team. Being more open and transparent about what applicants are being judged on will empower them to decide how best to demonstrate that they are the right person for the job.

To achieve this, we are:

  1. Working with recruitment agencies to support their clients to replace the degree requirement with something more meaningful for organisations and more accessible for applicants.
  2. Engaging fundraising managers with this issue, getting them to review their job descriptions and helping to overcome the inertia that perpetuates the inclusion of this requirement.
  3. Challenging organisations calling for degree-level qualifications in fundraising job descriptions, calling on them to abandon this outdated requirement and supporting them to replace it with more meaningful criteria.

Join us and open the door to the fundraising profession for more talented people!

To support the #NonGraduatesWelcome campaign, we are calling on you to:

  1. Review your own organisation’s job descriptions and commit to removing this requirement.
  2. Speak to peers and colleagues (especially those requiring degree-level qualifications) to call on them to review their job descriptions, helping them to make their fundraising teams more diverse and inclusive.
  3. Include the #NonGraduatesWelcome hashtag when advertising your roles.