Vanessa Chase of The Storytelling Nonprofit started the Fundraising is Female issue hashtag, and here are the issues we see as female fundraisers.
Why Fundraising is Female? Because:
This is sexual assault awareness month. So let’s take a moment to talk about sexual harrassment of fundraisers by donors.
We are chosen, sometimes for our beauty, sometimes for our skills, but often for our cheer- our ability to be enthusiastic, get people excited about our cause and help donors want to give more.
People can take it the wrong way, when you show interest in them. I know, from personal experience. If I smile at someone, and engage them in conversation, it can make them think I’m sexually interested in them, and ask for my number.
Working in fundraising has led me to get harassed by a board member. And I’m not the only one.
A board member at a nonprofit I used to work at had a meeting with me, and asked me inappropriate questions about my sexuality, and was overly familiar in touching me during that meeting. I left feeling gross. I told the board chair, but he was an HR professional, and because he was, his primary concern was to protect the nonprofit, not me, and so he simply told me not to meet with the board member again.
This didn’t really solve the problem, did it? The board member was free to go on and harass the next person. Absolutely no repercussions for this person.
This isn’t just a past problem. This is a present problem. How so? I work for myself! Surely, there’s nothing that anyone could do that would be sexual harassment toward me! Au contraire.
Last year I was approached to sit on a nonprofit board, and as part of the interview process, they had me meet with the board chair. We spent an hour or so together in a coffeeshop, where we talked about the nonprofit, and I showed him how to make a quick, easy fundraising plan. After the meeting, he emailed me to get a date. And I turned him down.
Then I realized that no matter how much I liked this nonprofit, there was no way I could sit on this board now. They wouldn’t have me. It would be too awkward. I told the person who originally recruited me, but that was it. There was nothing more I could do. Will this board chair hit on someone else again? Probably.
These are just two of the ways that fundraising while female has impacted my life.
On sexual assault awareness month, let’s take a moment to talk about sexual harassment of fundraisers by donors.
If you’re an executive director, board member or other senior nonprofit leader, here’s why you should care about this.
See below to see ideas for how to protect your nonprofit and your staff from unwanted lawsuits.
Can you think of any other ideas of what to do for sexual harassment in the workplace? I’d love to hear them!
Thank you to Vanessa Chase for giving me the inspiration to write this post!