In July, Safer London Trusts and Foundations Fundraiser Olivia Andrews attended the first BAME Online Fundraising Conference.
Created by Fundraising Everywhere, curated by Income Generation consultant Martha Awojobi, and co-hosted by British Red Cross Supporter Experience Lead Camille St-Omer Donaldson, the day provided valuable insight. Not just for Safer London’s fundraising activities, but around wider sector challenges.
BAME Online went above and beyond looking at fundraising and addressed some of the biggest challenges facing the sector in the landscape of renewed focus on Black Lives Matter, anti-racism and equality & inclusion.
On Wednesday 29th July, I spent six exhilarating hours at the first ever BAME Online Fundraising Conference. BAME Online provided a space not only for conversation and skills sharing around fundraising, but around how the sector moves forward as a whole.
The day was incredible for me, not just as a fundraiser but as a Black woman in the sector. Thanks to Fundraising Everywhere and Martha Awojobi, people across the sector were able to learn, listen, understand and collaborate in a meaningful way. The conference gave me a new understanding of the sector and how I fit into it. I am keen to apply what I’ve learnt not only to my fundraising, but to my interactions in the sector as a whole.
Despite happening online, the energy of the conference was electric and the numerous sessions were incredibly insightful. Although promoted as a fundraising conference, BAME Online went above and beyond looking at fundraising and addressed some of the biggest challenges facing the sector in the landscape of renewed focus on Black Lives Matter, anti-racism and equality and inclusion.
A range of BAME talent from across the third sector explored key challenges facing fundraising and charities as a whole. Themes included ethical copywriting in fundraising, how to build collective power, navigating powerful funders and game changing leadership.
The day was jam-packed with content, networking, and a really exciting atmosphere that signalled the beginning of significant sector change.
This challenge is really important for Safer London moving forward. It links directly into our participation work, where we’re working to ensure that the young Londoners we work alongside are involved in every aspect of our organisation.
One of the sessions I found most interesting was the ‘Ethical Imagery – the Participant as the protagonist’ talk led by Priya Changela and Kristie Lockhart.
The speakers discussed the impact of power structures in writing fundraising copy, how fundraising as a practice is derived from colonialist practices, how this perpetuates injustices and ultimately erases the voices of the people that charities support.
This session highlighted key ways to actively challenge these practice:
Subject: Don’t make them passive, give them active agency in image and words. Consistently seek feedback from them.
Voice: The voice should always be the communities we work with. Without information identifying them or their voice, they often remain a random ‘beneficiary’ under the white gaze.
Action: In depicting need, ensure that the person in the subject is not made less important than the action to raise funds. They are the reason we are taking action and we should be writing in equal solidarity.
This challenge is really important for Safer London moving forward. It links directly into our participation work, where we’re working to ensure that the young Londoners we work alongside are involved in every aspect of our organisation. More importantly, we are making sure that that their voices are brought to the forefront and providing platforms for their voices to be heard both internally and externally.
Going forward, I will be much more conscious of applying this to the fundraising applications I write. I also learnt key skills and practices around communicating with funders and ensuring I am creating authentic relationships with them.
The next six months are critical for prioritising racial justice work within charities and the sector as a whole
A key theme running through the day was focused on charities responses to racism and their commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. The ‘Moving beyond Black Lives Matter statements’ section led by the conference curator Martha Mac Alonge (founder and CEO of The Equal Group), and Fatima Iftikhar (founding organiser of #CharitySoWhite) discussed the challenge around being truly inclusive, racially progressive and embedding a culture of anti-racist work.
Key conclusions were drawn about how the next six months are critical for prioritising racial justice work within charities and the sector as a whole and the importance of holding charity leaders accountable.
You can still buy tickets to access all the content from BAME Online here! Following on from the conference and the focus of anti-racism in the sector as a whole, I have compiled a list of resources on this which is available for anyone to view here.