On March 8, AFP celebrated International Women’s Day by launching its new Women’s Impact Initiative, or WII. The Initiative is AFP’s response to a series of issues around the role of women in fundraising, including gender inequity, sexual harassment, and implicit bias.
Despite women representing approximately 70% of the fundraising profession, we estimate that barely a third are in leadership position. We see salaries for women that are consistently $15,000 - $20,000 behind those of our male colleagues. And there are so many stories about harassment—sexual or otherwise—from bosses, colleagues, board members and donors that go back many years.
The goal of the Initiative is to provide skills and training so that fair and equitable salaries can be negotiated; to provide resources to create workplaces that are against harassment in all its forms; and develop mentoring programs, as well as research and other services, that can break barriers and create new opportunities for women.
We’re already well underway. We’ve held town hall webinars (in which registrations filled up in a day and a half) and created a new website and hashtag (#WIILead). Next week, we will be releasing our first major project under the initiative: a comprehensive survey of sexual harassment in the profession conducted in partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
We are also identifying and working with partnering organizations who can bring their own perspectives and resources to the initiative. On the WII website, you’ll find a great resource from DonorPerfect, “The Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women.” The handbook contains tried-and-true advice, best practices, and valuable exercises to equip and inspire you to pursue leadership positions within your organization. There are also free online courses you can take through Catalyst covering topics like Unconscious Bias: From Awareness to Action, Communication Skills for Bridging Divides and Becoming a Successful Leader (Inclusive Leadership Training).
I also encourage you to use the discussion groups we have set up for WII. It’s an opportunity to ask questions or share your thoughts and perspectives. What have you or organization done to make progress on this issue? What are some shining examples of organizations doing equity well? We want to hear from you!
As the community for the fundraising profession, AFP needs to take a leadership role in addressing these critical issues. But we’re not going to do it all at once—this is a long-term project. And we’re not going to do it alone. It’s so critical that we listen to, and WII encompasses, so many different perspectives and ideas.
Our function as fundraisers and charities is to highlight important topics and educate the public about them. Equity, leadership, harassment—these issues are as important as any we will ever raise funds for in our career. They affect every one of us, and I hope you’ll join us as we begin these important first steps in addressing these critical issues.