Gender issues in fundraising

Gender in fundraising is an issue that had been simmering for many years before the MeToo movement and the scandals of the Presidents Club fundraising dinner and Oxfam’s safeguarding failures caused it to boil over. Now there is evidence from the USA that something like 25 per cent of female fundraisers have been subjected to sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Naturally there are calls for the both the fundraising profession and the charity sector more widely to tackle this issue, and diversity initiatives have been set up in the USA and UK.

Rogare is also contributing to these challenges. Our aim is to ensure any solutions are grounded in the relevant theory and evidence that already exists.

We have therefore established a task group of International Advisory Panel members – led by Caoileann Appleby of Irish creative agency and Rogare Associate Member Ask Direct, who introduces the project's aims on this Critical Fundraising blog

The project has two phases:

Phase 1 - build the knowledge base that underpins this issue to better inform debate and discussions therefore any interventions we make as a profession.

Phase 2 - building on the ideas collated under Phase 1, develop a 'road map' of the issues the fundraising profession is facing and recommend potential solutions for dealing with them.

Phase 2 – Mapping the issues (ongoing)

The second phase of our project to explore gender issues in fundraising is to map the issues facing female fundraisers and develop a road map of solutions based on Lean Out feminism. If you are not already familiar with Lean Out feminism and how its implications for fundraising, please check out Ruby Bayley-Pratt’s blog on Critical Fundraising.

To gather as many ideas as we can about what the challenges and potential solutions might be, we’re asking the practitioners and others with ideas to share their views. 

You can download our consultation document as a Word Template document (click on the download button below), which means you can open this as many times as you wish to create a new file for each idea you want to propose to us.

Please send your completed forms to the interim project leader Ruth Smyth, by the end of 2019. We will close this consultation at that point to allow the gender project team to develop a first draft of the roadmap by the spring of 2020. 

Our rationale for choosing the Lean Out roadmap options is provided by Rogare director Ian MacQuillin in this blog.

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More information

Dowload the Lean Out Roadmap consultation document.

Phase 1 – Understanding the issues (completed)

  1. Identify questions and issues that might need further exploration/identify in broad terms what we need to know and where the knowledge gaps are. Particularly are there any issues that might be unique or specific to fundraising (such as ‘donor dominance’)

  2. Clarify and define terms – e.g. what do we mean by, for example, ‘gender pay gap’?

  3. Collate existing research or theories, or at least the best or most relevant of these

  4. Collate and analyse current practitioner contributions to the debate (blogs etc.)

  5. Initiate and develop discussions and conversations that will contribute to ‘causal-explanatory accounts’ of the issues we have identified, and lead these outside of this group. (See Ian MacQuillin's blog for an explanation of a 'causal-explanatory account').

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More information

Read all the Critical Fundraising blogs from Rogare's first phase of the Gender Issues in Fundraising project:

1. Terminology 101 – some key concepts explained, by Ruth Smyth and Heather Hill.

2. Sexual harassment and violence, by Caoileann Appleby

5. Leadership and visibility, by Heather Hill.

6. A roadmap for structural change, by Ian MacQuillin.

There will be a lot of cross-pollination between our gender in fundraising project and many other initiatives we are currently running. For example, our work on virtue ethics will incorporate Feminist Care Ethics, while the research into ‘donor dominance’ looks at possible inappropriate behaviour by donors

The gender issues project group


Project leader

Boldlight Consulting (UK)

  • Cailoeann Appleby ­– Ask Direct (Ireland) (Project leader for Phase 1, 2018-2020)

  • Ashley Belanger ­– Ashley H. Belanger Consulting (USA)

  • Heather Hill – Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey (USA)

  • Ian MacQuillin – Rogare (UK)