There is now a lot of talk by some voluntary sector leaders, membership associations and infrastructure bodies about the need to tackle the diversity deficit in the voluntary sector. That’s a good start.
Here are some questions for them and the others that haven’t started yet:
(1) How are you going to coordinate, collaborate and combine your various initiatives to reduce waste, maximise resources and impact and minimise “brand ownership” of this issue? In the past few months we have had new initiatives by:
- ACEVO: https://www.acevo.org.uk/advocacy/policy-and-research/diversity-in-the-charity-sector/
- Institute of Fundraising: www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/championing-fundraising/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/
- New Philanthropy Capital: https://www.thinknpc.org/themes/discover-ideas-and-approaches/diversity-and-inclusion/
(2) What is your collective definition of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
(3) What’s your collective “theory of change” that takes account of all the reasons (personal, psychological, organisational, sociological and practical – see graphic) that change hasn’t happened over the past 20+ years – as evidenced here:
(4) Given the history of talk, toolkits and little change on this issue, what’s going to be different this time?
(5) How are you going to lead the sector to create noticeable change that goes beyond, at best, the cosmetic?
(6) How are you each going to change your own organisation so that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is demonstrably embedded in everything it does?
(7) How are you going to involve currently marginalised people and organisations to create and implement solutions – starting with CharitySoWhite, Voice for Change England, the Grant Givers Movement and Equally Ours?
(8) What action plan are you collectively going to agree now to make real change on this issue within the next 3 years?
(9) How are you going to measure the impact of the action you will take individually and collectively?
(10) Data exists to show some of the key diversity deficits in our sector but is missing in key areas (eg class, whether “of” groups get fair funding, etc). How are you collectively going to extend that dataset and then account to the whole sector, as well as to your individual memberships, for what does and does not change in that data each year for at least the next 3 years?
By my count, there are between 15 and 20 key organisations that represent or support a significant part, if not the majority, of the voluntary and community sector. That is a small group of organisations and a small group of leaders. There is no good reason why such a small group of people cannot coordinate their efforts to significantly change how our sector delivers on diversity and inclusion in a small number of years rather than a small number of generations.
Some Key Sector infrastructure and Membership Organisations:
- Institute of Fundraising
- Association of Charitable Foundations
- Association of Charitable Organisations
- London Funders
- UK Community Foundations
- Association of Chairs
- Association of Voluntary Treasurers
- Small Charities Coalition
- Charity Finance Group
- Directory of Social Change
“Of not For”:
“Of” organisations are those which are controlled and run by the community they are aiming to serve.
“For” organisations are run by others on behalf of the community they seek to serve.
“Of” perspectives are the direct voices of individuals and particular communities. “For” perspectives are the voices of others talking about particular communities.
Recognising that “Of” perspectives are expert perspectives is a key step – and that “For” perspectives can be valuable but should not be preferenced over the perspectives of those with lived experience.