Category Archives: Women

Empowering Philanthropic Women: Survey Said

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Renewed by some conference learning courtesy of CPRA, Apra’s Colorado chapter, I’m writing from Fort Collins, Colorado, where I had the joy and pleasure of presenting “A Woman’s Place is in Your Prospect Portfolio.” Here, I outlined a business case and moral imperative for identifying, researching, engaging and stewarding women donors. Specifically, I offered suggestions for fund development organizations to start – or carry on confidently – on the wonderful journey of advancing female philanthropy with practical data techniques and engagement strategies.

In the presentation, I drew from some survey data that was informally and unscientifically collected, collated and analyzed by yours truly. Here are some highlights about what you shared with me.

Missing Women’s Report 

For prospect development and fundraising professionals, prioritizing or at least including her in prospect research profiles and prospect portfolios formed a prominent theme:

“Put her information first in a profile, and his in the spouse section.”

“Get over the discomfort of estimating non-visible wealth! Present the household wealth and philanthropic picture, not the single biggest gift.”

“Provide balanced information on a couple. Ensure that women (mothers, daughters, and granddaughters) are included in research. Also, provide some insight into maternal lineage.”

“Strategy should include HER interests and passions. Do not make assumptions on how previous donations were decided.”

Reach Out to Her

I also asked how female fundraisers in particular, can better engage women donors in our respective missions and causes. You shared some practical approaches like:

“It may be beneficial to have two fundraisers at a meeting so a quieter spouse can be drawn out in conversation.”

“Engage women on a one-to-one basis, focus on *her* unique reason for giving; empower her vision for a better world, and honour her decisions.”

“Treat them like individuals, not stereotypical “pink” females; create more social opportunities; advocate for volunteer leadership opportunities.”

Where We Women At?

The notion or concept of invisibility permeated through cautionary (and blunt) statements about marketing / communication and stewardship of women donors:

“Think very carefully before giving an honourary degree to half of a power couple. This could be very insulting to a woman if she doesn’t receive the same recognition.”

“I am very sensitive to the images that we use in fundraising materials; recognize that we use a lot of unbearably paternalistic poses of masculine elder and eager student.”

“Seriously stop it with the old white dudes holding giant cheques.”

Broader Problems

Many survey respondents are not optimistic that the fundraising and philanthropic communities will make steady strides soon, pointing to systemic issues in gender parity:

“It looks like a few women are going to have to set big examples to get noticed. Right now major gifts are usually credited to a couple or a family even if a woman prompted it.”

“Unfortunately, much needs to be done to educate fundraisers that they need to do a better job of reaching out to all prospective donors, regardless of gender. I’m not optimistic that there will be major advances in women’s philanthropy anytime soon.”

“Advancing women’s philanthropy” is closely tied to “advancing women” — this issue is part of a much bigger problem of how we view and treat women, and women of different backgrounds, races, gender identities, etc.”

Your care and commitment to this topic shone through, dear survey respondents, so thank you so much for participating!

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I’m heartened by the thoughtful questions and comments CPRA attendees shared with me about women’s philanthropy at last week’s conference. It’s clear many are already thinking about how to unravel conventional data practices that have literally hidden women’s contributions to their respective organizations. I suggested a full and thorough data audit using a gender lens, covering wide aspects of fund development operations – donations processing, donor communication rules, formal research, prospect portfolios, and stewardship practices. It takes more work, but it’s clearly worth understanding women’s contributions to your organization; a critical piece in better understanding our donor bases of strong support. 

As always, would you please care to comment on this post? Our community is stronger with information exchange and dialogue. THANK YOU!

We’re at the Non-Profit Top. Or Not?

Vanessa Chase Lockshin

Like you, I like lists. The kind that identify powerful, influential – *successful* – people. Something like this: top-paid South Asian technology entrepreneurs living in Vancouver, ranked by annual revenue estimates. Ah yes, those kinds of lists!

So, imagine my pleasant surprise coming across a storytelling non-profit consultant from my very own local network on this list of 30 Under 30, published by BC Business Magazine, last March. I’m referring to female fundraiser extraordinairess Vanessa Chase Lockshin. 

I can’t do Vanessa’s success story cogent justice here in this small space, so I encourage you to look her up and join me in acknowledging (admiring, truly) her career so far. She is 28 so her most successful career days, this prospect researcher predicts, are still ahead of her.

Recently, Vanessa and I reconnected on the topic of gender data and women’s philanthropy. She asked me to be a guest on her popular online show Summer FUNraising, to talk about my time as a prospect development practitioner and to discuss research and fundraising strategies that promote women’s giving across different non-profit types.

You can view our 35-minute segment here.

Vanessa is well-placed to facilitate this topical conversation based on her own social advocacy at #FundraisingIsFemale. She is clearly passionate about empowering female fundraisers to lead and grow non-profit organizations and institutions, while many of our industry counterparts shy away from this issue.

And we so very much need her voice right now, especially given recent reports that show slow (practically stunted) progress for female leaders in our sector. One example hails from Council on Foundations, who just released some sobering results in The State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector. The download is accessible here. (I warn you, this report’s findings are depressing.)

How is it possible that, in an industry dominated by competent, creative and strategic female staff, we still struggle to identify, promote and appreciate women at the upper echelon level? It forms the heart of a difficult but critical conversation. Cheers to Vanessa Chase Lockshin for courageously carrying on this conversation with me and you.

Related News:

Roxanne Scott, “If Women Rule the Fundraising Game, Why Don’t They Hold More Top Positions?” 89.3 WFPL Online, January 31, 2017 – http://wfpl.org/women-rule-fundraising-game-dont-hold-top-positions/

 

 

When a woman self-advocates, does she show too much #ResearchPride?

I’m supportive.

As a prospect researcher, my primary responsibility is to offer strategic support for front-line fundraisers, by helping them better understand our donor base. To aid from the background with gentle nudges of informational wisdom.

I’m also critical.

Having practiced prospect research in all of its progressive iterations for more than 15 years, I’ve worked at a number of advancement and non-profit institutions, gathering experiences and formulating opinions about how to work effectively. I’ve grown to judge when it’s not working as well. Out loud, I should add.

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Decades in the workforce have offered some serious self-awareness shaping as well; it’s not just about the work itself, but who is doing that work? [*Coughs*} A white male, I am not.

That’s me: a colleague-pleasing prospect researcher who strives to support. And a veteran non-profit professional who doesn’t tolerate well inaccuracies, inefficiencies (and other not-so-fun stuff) in the grander fundraising operation. Who feels an obligation to  critique provide feedback; to speak out; to self-advocate; and to school teach. Someone who therefore risks not seeming supportive.

I want to be liked and also want to succeed. As a short, brown female professional, is it possible to be both at the same time? If I continue self-advocating, do I risk being disliked?

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Power woman and social technology executive Sheryl Sandberg writes about this issue in her bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013). Refer to her chapter on “Success and Likeability,” where she resigns working women to being both damned and doomed! She cites research conducted by a number of American business schools including Columbia and Harvard to show how gender stereotypes disadvantage outwardly successful women.

“Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are caregivers, sensitive and communal. Because we characterize men and women in opposition to each other, professional achievement and all the traits associated with it get placed in the male column,” according to Ms Sandberg’s research.

What does it mean for working women? She argues:

“If a woman pushes to get the job done, if she’s highly competent, if she focuses on results rather than on pleasing others, she’s acting like a man. And if she acts like a man, people dislike her.”

Consequentially, some women temper their professional accomplishments and goals. I’m no different.

Certainly, I think twice before taking credit, pointing to my own value and other self-promoting behaviour, knowing I may be disliked by men and women alike. When I do advocate for myself, it’s handled carefully and infrequently.

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During Chapters Share the Knowledge Week last year, I shared with fellow Apra members some stories about my own challenges as a solo prospect researcher in my previous fundraising shop that didn’t fully ‘get’ me.

One of my defense mechanisms is an elevator speech which is the ultimate self-promotion tool. The speech articulates – during those times other staff don’t respond to or seem to appreciate – the work I do to help them sound and act smart and strategic in their donor interactions.

The speech is crafted and ready to launch well in advance of an actual emotion-triggering incident, hence assuring a coherent response. (!)

Recently, Apra board member Amy Turbes asked me to create a new elevator speech as part of a toolkit the advocacy committee is developing to help all Apra members self-advocate in their respective shops.

Before this sensitive soul shares said speech with you, it’s worth mentioning my pre-writing process:

For weeks, I looked for language before tackling this small writing exercise, partly because I’m a wurd nerd, but also being careful not to appear self-serving or ‘braggy.’ (Bragging is just not lady-like, I’ve been socialized to believe.) So, I thought about gentle, pleasant words and phrases I could use to describe prospect development efforts at my organization.

Referencing other sources for inspiration was also helpful. If you’re interested in crafting your own elevator speech, please have a look at the American Library Association’s tips here.

I managed to draw up this little diddly which met my own approval:

By ensuring they have access to relevant, accurate and strategic information, I encourage front-line fundraisers to engage our donors in more meaningful ways, ultimately to secure their support.

Stimulating interest, curiosity and awareness about our current and future donors forms a critical part of the strategic support role I play at my organization.

Specifically, new funding opportunities that I identify for further consideration always demonstrate financial capacity alongside some linkage or known interest in my organization. I help fundraisers determine the initial approach for these quality leads based on ethically-sourced research and my own humble experiences.

It requires intelligence and preparation to make the right ask at the right time of the right person. My work equips fundraisers with the informed confidence they need to make it happen.

Anything less is just Googling.

Notice how I carefully tempered this self-promotion with non-threatening words: encourage, support, curiosity, help and humble. 

As a social being naturally wanting to be liked, my quest for likability intensifies at work, especially based on the scope of my role. Being conscious of it has helped me self-advocate anyway, as needed. I’d rather be real and effective at work to advance my organization’s goals. Really.

Apparently, Facebook king Mark Zuckerberg agrees. He told Ms Sandberg that her desire to be liked by everyone would hold her back, as relayed in Lean In. “He said that when you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making progress.”

Like me or not, I raise a stemless goblet to progressive prospect development during #ResearchPride month!

#IWD2017   #WeAreApra

Emma Lewzey | The Inclusive Fundraiser

Emma Lewzey is a fundraiser’s friend, especially if you’re a fundraiser who is different – from a marginalized community.

I first came across her on Twitter (@EmmaLewzey) and grew to respect her informative guidance on fundraising and philanthropy in Canada.

A socially minded fundraiser and a donor to a number of Toronto-area charities, Emma willingly shares her wisdom with our community during these interesting times.

Check out her blog on speaking out, first posted on fellow fierce fundraiser Sheena Greer’s blog which was later picked up by Hilborn e-news here.

“I feel for my colleagues who can’t take a public stance about political issues,” Emma said when I spoke with her over the phone last week. “At some organizations, speaking out about political issues can put you at real risk in terms of job security.

“I’m in a position where I’m working for myself now [consulting]. I have an opportunity to express and stay true to my values; say what I want to say.”

This led to a discussion about her “ever-evolving” career journey which she poetically coins an “organic unfolding” that took place after a sabbatical last summer. She recommends building some time away from your day-to-day role to reflect and shape future career possibilities.

“I’m interested in work that brings both fundraising expertise and my commitment to diversity and inclusion together,” she said.

In addition to consulting, Emma is active in numerous governance roles with AFP. She serves on the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada board and recently joined the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter’s board as VP Inclusion & Equity. She is also chairing the AFP Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy, a provincially-funded initiative that has a two-pronged goal: provide education and support to diverse fundraisers; and empower fundraisers to create diversity and inclusion resource capacity in the non-profit sector.

I found the Fellowship’s 2016 impact report an inspirational read here.

(I told you Emma is a fundraiser’s friend!)

We talked about how to develop fundraising strategies that include diverse and inclusive communities.

“The tone is set at the top, with volunteer leadership, at the board and committee level,” she said.

“For savvy donors who are interested in and value inclusive participation, they look at the diversity of your board. How serious are you about diversity and inclusion at your organization?”

Going beyond fundraising efforts, Emma emphasized the pervasiveness of barriers to access, at all levels of the organization and sector.

“Our strategies are broader than fundraising alone: look at the organization’s leadership, human resource practices – having diverse representation on staff – and people being skilled in cultural competencies.

“There is no quick fix; it’s complex and slow-moving at times. We need to have more meaningful structures in place, so diversity and inclusiveness become embedded in non-profits,” she said.

The development of a board recruitment policy that any non-profit could access and model to help increase its own candidate pool, is one example of the kind of solutions posed by Fellowship recipients.

“Addressing the lack of diversity in fundraising leadership is an ongoing focus of the AFP Inclusive Giving project,” she said, mentioning that AFP is interested in continuing this work outside of Ontario.

It’s welcomed news for fundraising and related professionals who are based in provinces like BC where minority populations are fast becoming the majority.

Emma stressed the need for continuous dialogue, perhaps even planning a future AFP learning where fundraising professionals from different communities come together and talk about the challenges they face in the non-profit sector.

She praised AFP’s commitment and investment in diversity and inclusion as pillars of strategic strength:

“It’s heartening that our professional association understands [diversity and inclusion] are crucial to the future of our profession.”

We discussed other topics, including Emma’s most memorable experiences working with A Few Great Women donors. I’ll reserve her stories for a future “Take Two” blog post this Spring. Do please stay tuned to learn more about this change-making fundraiser.

P.S. – The inclusive fundraiser wanted to share two opportunities to access professional development funding with you, dear readers: The AFP Diverse Communities Scholarship covers international conference fees and travel. AFP is looking for applicants starting this fall, so bookmark this link for more details.

Fellow Canadians have access to a variety of education offerings through a scholarship program here. The deadline is approaching: March 15, 2017.

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Hey Hey. Ho Ho! Activists in Pictures

#WomensMarchVancouver ~~~ 1/21/2017

Creative expression through song and signage: some were amusing; others were moving. All words were creatively crafted. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Say it loud. Say it here. #BlackLivesMatter here. (Chant three times at least!)
  • Respect existence or expect resistance.
  • Proud nasty woman. (My personal favourite. I had to trail this woman for three blocks to snap a clear shot of her awesome sign!)
  • And finally, a woman’s place is … only where she wants it to be.

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I hope this activist spirit continues in us all. See you on the streets, good peeps!i

Take Two: So, I found out later that the official hashtag for my local rally was #wmwyvr.