Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Women's History Month Reflections: We've Come a Long Way...and We Still Have a Long Way to Go

March is Women’s History Month, and like many of you, we’ve been reflecting on women in the fundraising profession, and the challenges and opportunities we face. We’ve come a long way, though we still have a long way to go.

Ann Hale
MA, CFRE
Chair, AFP
Seventy-five percent of AFP’s members, or three out of four, are female. That’s roughly 25,000 women who, simply put, have chosen to pursue the greatest profession in the world. We are leaders, from Vienna to Vancouver, who’ve made the decision to become part of something much larger than ourselves. We are advancing our organizations’ many amazing missions by learning from philanthropy agent peers, joining with those peers to promote the social impact sector, and pursuing professional development opportunities to advance our knowledge base and our careers.

As women, becoming a sector leader can present major challenges. We know this from the research, and from personal experience. Both of us have served in the fundraising profession and nonprofit sector for more than 20 years, and we have each been fortunate enough to work with many sector leaders—women and men alike—who have nurtured and encouraged our growth.

Martha Schumacher
CFRE, ACFRE, MInstF (AD)
Chair-Elect, AFP
However, as is the case with many of our female peers, we have experienced some significant exceptions. For example, early in our careers, we both had the experience of being made to feel under-valued and/or disrespected by some of our male colleagues and donors, simply because we were young and female.

At other moments in our journeys, we worked with a few select male peers who didn’t publicly recognize our efforts or even took credit for them; or we were told in no uncertain terms that the salary cap for a position was non-negotiable, a statement we didn’t challenge because we didn’t think we could or should. These are just a few examples we imagine will sound familiar to many fellow women fundraisers.

Last year, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a comprehensive report about the status of women in leadership in all sectors. You can see a two-page infographic here and visit the www.aauw.org website to order the full report for free. Here are a few highlights:
  • Women make up over half the U.S. population, yet represent less than 30% of executive positions
  • Women of color make up less than 5% of executive positions in the United States
  • Women make up more than half of college graduates and represent half of the labor force, yet are significantly underrepresented at the senior and executive levels
AAUW also recently came out with updated information on the gender pay gap: Women in the U.S. earn just 80 cents on the dollar in the same jobs as men, and the pay gap is not expected to close until 2152. That’s right: 135 years from now!

Our neighbors in Canada have an even greater challenge: as of 2016, women there earned approximately 72 cents on the dollar relative to men, which equates to $8,000 less per year than men doing an equivalent job – nearly double the global average!

Just as AFP’s membership is made up of 75% women, the social impact sector workforce is also 75% female. While 45% of top positions in nonprofits are held by women, when this data is overlaid with the 75% figure, the gender leadership ratio is not tracking apace.

What does this all mean for the social impact sector? And more specifically, what does it mean for women who are fundraisers and philanthropy agents, aspiring to become leaders in their own organizations—to someday command roles at the director, vice president and CEO levels?

Organizations such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation, AAUW and the Nonprofit Hub provide many excellent recommendations on how to most effectively close the gender leadership and pay gaps. Here are a few of the strategies we recommend, especially relevant for women who are newer to the workforce:

1) Ask and Ye Shall Receive. Sound familiar? As fundraisers, we are often fiercely courageous when it comes to asking for a philanthropic gift on behalf of our crucial mission. Asking for a raise? Not so much. Whether you are a fan of Lean In or not, it’s hard to argue with one of Sheryl Sandberg’s simplest yet most crucial points: if you don’t ask for more money, you won’t get it. Major Gift Officers, take note!

2) Record and Discuss Your Aspirations. Do you have career goals mapped out for the next three, five and ten-plus years? Have you shared these aspirations with your colleagues, your mentor, your supervisor and your partner/spouse? Setting career goals may be challenging, however, not setting them can result in missed opportunities and unrealized dreams. Here’s a helpful article.

3) Seek Out Leadership Positions—At Your Workplace and in Your Volunteer Life. Regardless of your position title, make it known that you are looking for leadership opportunities on the job. Also, never forget that, ultimately, being a great leader isn’t about the title. In your volunteer life, seek out your favorite local organization and volunteer there – for an event, on a committee, or perhaps on their Board of Directors. Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t suggest that you consider volunteering for your local AFP chapter and/or AFP International! 

Again, these suggestions are a starting point for reflection and discussion, particularly for female professionals newer to the workforce and to our profession. There are myriad ways to broach the challenges for women in leadership positions and the gender wage divide, and the conversation must involve and engage all genders working together to address them. While tremendous progress has been made over the past few decades, there is still so much to be done from a gender politics, leadership opportunity and compensation equity standpoint.

In closing, we’d like to leave you with a quote from Ann Saddlemyer, a renowned Canadian scholar and Guggenheim Fellow: "Don't ever let anyone tell you that you cannot go through a particular door. Always be prepared to go through a door that leads to your goal."

Ann Hale, MA, CFRE
Chair, AFP


Martha Schumacher, CFRE, ACFRE, MInstF (AD)
Chair-Elect, AFP

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Women's History Month

Women have had a profound effect on the fundraising profession. Countless women have held and continue to hold leadership positions in the AFP community, from chapter presidents to chairs of our international association and various foundations. Our profession would look very different without the contributions of female fundraisers—from leading development directors and CEOs to ground-breaking consultants, authors, researchers and many more.

My own leadership style reflects what I've learned from working for leaders such as former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. And, of course, I take many of my cues as the interim President & CEO of AFP from my time working for our former President & CEO, Paulette Maehara. But perhaps most importantly, I am grateful for strong women leaders as role models for my eight- and nine-year old daughters.

That’s why I found the timing of our article about men in fundraising on International Women's Day to be so egregious. It is why I issued this apology immediately. Although the timing of the article's re-publication was inadvertent, it still has a negative impact. At a time when AFP is finalizing its new strategic plan with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, the timing of the article unintentionally diminished the significance of the historic day and made AFP appear out of touch. For those reasons and many others, I am sorry for the timing and appearance of the article.

I want to assure you that AFP and I truly recognize and embrace the intrinsic value of women in the profession, and I hope you’ll give us a chance to demonstrate and prove our commitment in the weeks and months to follow. We will be examining pertinent issues within the profession—such as the gender salary gap and why are there fewer women in senior development and nonprofit leadership positions—as well as celebrating the impact of women in fundraising.

AFP’s role is to be a leader in the field, and that leadership means we need to be doing a better job of advocating for all groups and demographics within our profession, including women. Women’s History Month is the time when we should remind everyone of the impact of women’s work, particularly in fundraising and philanthropy, as well as the barriers that still exist to full equality. We’ll be doing that throughout the rest of the month. And we will continue to explore these and other issues—and not just in March, but throughout the year—to ensure that the great diversity of voices within AFP are heard, respected and celebrated.

I would love to hear from you regarding these issues. How can AFP be a better advocate for women and other groups within our membership? And what issues would you like to see us address? Email me at afppresident@afpnet.org.