As someone who has been in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years, I had the perception that there was no gender gap. Women ran the organizations for which I worked (including United Way and the American Red Cross, two of the largest nonprofits in the sector). My mentors were strong, results-oriented women. And I always believed that I earned a fair wage.
It surprised me to learn from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) that there is indeed a pervasive gender gap, even if I did not personally see or feel the effects of it. AFP created the Women’s Impact Initiative (WII) to explore sexual harassment and gender pay inequity, as well as to create mentorship, executive coaching, and cultural awareness programs to advance women’s issues. AFP WII found the following:
- Gender accounts for a 10% difference in salaries between male and female fundraisers.
- Women comprise 70% of the fundraising profession, but only 30% of senior-level fundraising positions are held by women.
- One in four female fundraisers have been harassed on the job.
AFP is tackling both of these issues through the Alford Group Mentoring and Leadership Development Program. This effort pairs 10 female, emerging fundraising professionals with 10 female, seasoned leaders who will serve as their mentors. This week, I received the good news that I was selected to serve as a mentor to a dynamic young professional in Nashville, Tennessee. There is no more important thing than passing on your experience and insights that a fundraising executive can do than to ensure that the vitality of the profession for generations to come. This is particularly critical in an environment where emerging fundraising professionals may get disheartened by gender inequities and leave the sector entirely.
I encourage everyone who is in a position to do so to help younger women in the fundraising space succeed.