The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada has received many accolades for the first phase of its work to strengthen diversity and inclusion in charitable giving and fundraising. The foundation is now building on its earlier success with a fellowship program for fundraisers from diverse backgrounds.
In the first project, a series of conferences linked community leaders and philanthropists from various ethno-cultural and other diverse communities with non-profit organizations and professional fundraisers. The knowledge from these dialogues was used to create training and educational materials for charities seeking to better engage diverse communities as
donors, volunteers and staff. The project has received several awards, including the Charles E. Stephens Excellence in Diversity Chapter Award from AFP International.
The new Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy offers education, training and networking activities and one-on-one mentorship for Ontario-based new and mid-career non-profit professionals from under-represented communities.
The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade's Partnership Grant Program has provided funding for both multi-year initiatives.
"We were very pleased that the province gave us this new round of funding to further move the needle on diversity and inclusion in philanthropy," says Krishan Mehta, co-chair of the project along with his AFP colleague Emma Lewzey. "With the emergence of new, diverse donor groups, we recognize the need for similar diversity in the fundraiser community."
The first group of 35 fellows is already participating and a second cohort will be chosen in spring 2016. "We have some amazing emerging fundraising leaders coming from this fellowship program, representing a wide number of diverse groups that cut across gender, faith, culture, race, sexual orientation and ability," says Mr. Mehta.
The connections between the new and established fundraisers will benefit the sector well into the future, he says. "The fellows offer new insights about how philanthropy is done in different communities, and the established professionals serving as their mentors are sharing their expertise in fundraising and donor engagement.
"The face of philanthropy is changing in Canada and, with that, we must change the face of professional fund-raising."
Diversity and inclusion are among the keys to the future success and impact of charities in Canada. We live in a country that prides itself on its depth and breadth of culture, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age and the list goes on.
Yet our donors, our volunteers and our staff are shockingly unrepresentative of the communities we serve. In Toronto, for example, research has shown that only 15 per cent of non-profit board positions are held by a member of a visible minority. That’s in a city where more than 50 per cent of the population is now in that ‘minority.’
Surely we can’t complain about donor fatigue, declining resources and a revolving door of talent when we aren’t even connecting in any meaningful way with the communities around us?
Charities in this country would be well served to take a careful look at their policies and practices around diversity and put resources behind being more inclusive. The benefits are huge: studies show that diversity leads to innovation, greater board effectiveness, higher market share and improved stakeholder (or donor) relationships.
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.