Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Summit – It’s not for girls (apparently)

So you may have seen this on twitter – many of you may have commented on it on twitter – Giles Pegram CBE and Professor Adrian Sargeant have set up something called The Summit. It is a one day event which will ‘change the rules of fundraising’. Exciting stuff I am sure you will agree. The list of speakers (as well as including Giles and Adrian) is:
  • Ken Burnett
  • Alan Clayton
  • Pesh Framjee
  • Tod Norman
  • Bernard Ross
  • Joe Saxton
  • Kevin Schulman
  • Professor Jen Shang

Now a great list of speakers and I genuinely mean that. I have seen many of them speak over my years in fundraising and they are all inspiring, interesting, creative people that have contributed masses to the charity sector. However there are two things that jump out of me at this list: 

1. Where did all the women go?
Could they really only find one woman to speak? (and a great speaker she will be). As a sector that was described as ‘refreshingly equal’ (thank you @Kirsty_C for pointing me in the direction of the Civil Society article "Where did all the women go?") , it is disappointing to see so few women speaking at an event like this. 

Where are we all? Sitting in the audience, presumably. 

When questioned about this, Giles responded that he doesn’t believe in quotas (in a very nice polite open to discussion way. I don’t want to turn him into the next Suzanne Moore and get him hounded off twitter by feminist rage).

However what I don’t understand is, in a sector that is ‘refreshingly equal’ why do we need a quota? Surely we should be there on the stage by now? Many have argued that in 10 years time, we will see the progress and we’ll be asking ‘where have all the men gone’. But I feel like this ‘in 10 years time’ line has been around for, well, at least 10 years. 

If we don’t start to see more strong female voices in the sector soon I fear all we will see in 10 years time is more men saying ‘don’t worry, in 10 years.....’

2. Where did all the actual fundraisers go?
If you are going to ‘change the rules of fundraising’, don’t you need some actual fundraisers there? Again I am not trying to knock the people talking. I have a lot of time and respect for all of them and have employed the services of several but surely you need some people actually working in fundraising right now at this very moment  speaking?   

It isn’t the same consulting, advising or generating insight as sitting in a charity office, day after day, knowing your donors, knowing your beneficiaries and knowing your staff. Am not saying that consultants, professors and drivers of ideas don’t have a place at this kind of summit – of course they do - but to have no one on stage that is actively at the frontline of fundraising seems both a waste and kind of pointless. 

Which brings me to the solution. Half of fundraising directors in the UK are now women. More fundraisers at this kind of event would probably mean more women. So who needs quotas anyway?

Kathryn Brooke



  1. Cannot agree more Kathryn and I may add that this should be called the UK Summit because all speaker are from England. As you well noticed, nothing wrong and are all great speakers, but in 2013 no women or actual fundraisers among speakers? And there are no fundraisers to lead the revolution other than UK, in a global world where economy and innovation is happening in emerging markets? Where have all are great fundraisers from Eruope, Asia, Latin America and Africa gone?

  2. Just one note, there is an 'actual' fundraiser on that panel. I've had the pleasure of witnessing Alan Clayton fundraise brilliantly and regularly as chair of our national appeal board. He may not work directly for a charity but he has raised hundreds of thousands for ours alone (and in his spare time) something a lot of full time fundraisers would be lucky to do!

  3. Well done ladies.

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