BAME Fundraising Virtual Conference 2020 - some key learnings

BAME Fundraising Virtual Conference 2020 - some key learnings

In July 2020, Fundraising Everywhere virtually hosted the first ever fundraising conference developed by and for people of colour. To get access to the full sessions you can still buy tickets here. 50% of the on-demand will be donated to BAME-led organisations, 50% will be used to fund development on future events for people of colour.


Expertly curated by Martha Awojobi, the event:

1) Provided BAME led orgs with the practical fundraising tools, connections and knowledge for them to survive through this crisis (fundraising mechanisms)

2) Provided information on how organisations can support POC fundraisers and provide them with opportunities to thrive in fundraising (culture, recruitment, leadership, imposter-syndrome, personal development).

Some of the Cause4 and Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy team got together to attend the event and shared some key takeaways from their favourite sessions below.


No White Saviors – We Never Said No White People

Anna, Development Manager


‘We Never Said No White People’ was a talk led by No White Saviors - an advocacy campaign led by Alaso Olivia, a Ugandan Social Worker; Lubega Wendy, a human rights activist, Sharon Nyanjura, leader of an NGO in Uganda; and Kelsey Nielsen, self-styled ‘white saviour in recovery’. Their goal is to decolonise development dynamics.


At the conference, they talked about fundraising storytelling and challenged the narratives of western aid organisations, saying we need to kill narratives such as ‘poor but happy’ and ensure that communities have not lost their dignity through the process of receiving aid. They want fundraisers to be ethical storytellers, to use empathetic neutrality – essentially, to put themselves in the shoes of those they are trying to help and ask themselves ‘how would I feel if someone was telling this story about me?”. No White Saviours calls for new narratives, in which Africans are equal partners, and are the heroes of our own stories.


Ethical Copywriting and Imagery

Sarah, Marketing & Events Associate


A follow on from the No White Saviors conversation, the Ethical Copywriting and Imagery seminar was held by Priya Changela from the Disasters Emergency Committee and independent fundraising consultant Kristie Lockhart. In this conversation they looked at some actionable ideas to start unlearning long-learned processes of white saviourism.


They talked about how even as BAME-fundraisers, fundraising is a white designed space, and they have had to learn to operate in systems that perpetuate negative perceptions. Even a seemingly basic fundraising principle of putting the audience at the centre of fundraising is designed to reinforce this idea – the giver is a hero and the subject is passive.


They discussed with poverty porn narratives; traumatic images, without allowing the subject name or agency. Even today, people often claim this is the best way to fundraise because of lucrative results, but if nothing else has been tried, how can we know?


They advocate for giving subjects agency, and remembering they are living people you can seek feedback from. As storytellers we create the story, but we are not the experts.



Navigating Powerful Funders – Major Donor Edition

Naomi, Development Fellow


Navigating Powerful Funders was a panel discussion exploring how black-led organisations experience fundraising from major donors.


My core takeaway came from Layal Marten, Director of Major Gifts at Movember Foundation and Growth Lead at Founders Pledge. Layal spoke about how fundraising is already uncomfortable and adding the dynamics of being BAME or female exacerbates this. However, she stressed that if a charity is asking the right person about the right opportunity, that discomfort shouldn’t exist.


There’s a tendency in major donor fundraising to feel the need to conform and make the prospect comfortable – which Layla conveyed is more difficult as a BAME fundraiser in white dominant philanthropy. However, work with major donors should be focussed on bringing donors closer to the charity, rather than moving the charity closer to them and conforming.  This should be central to how charities navigate powerful funders. 


Major Gifts – how to read the room

Nye, Development Associate


‘Major Gifts: How to read the room’ took the form of a conversation between Kishshana Palmer, Founder & CEO of Kishshana Palmer & Co. and The Rooted Collaborative and Martha Awojobi, the curator of the conference.


The talk was extremely insightful and thought provoking. A key takeaway, was that fundraisers must be self-aware and can easily recognise their talents and skills, can utilise these in order to build relationships, and help others to realise the place of their support in the world. My second key takeaway was that fundraisers mustn’t think in terms of what the donor can do for you and the cause, but what you and the cause can do for the donor. Kishshana spoke with great energy saying “Put the tin cup away! We are helping folks to do catalytic, transformational work, using a tool that they have that we need, and we have something that they need that we have.” Statements such as these highlighted to me the importance of both re-evaluating power dynamics and taking the time to recognise what is it that is unique and powerful about what you do.


The myths of fundraising from BAME communities

David, Head of Programme


Panel debate ‘The myths of fundraising from BAME communities’ unpacked attitudes shaping fundraising practices. The panellists focussed on debunking a number of myths.


Panellist Kevin Amponsah, Philanthropy Officer at The Children’s Society, who leads a BAME support group and is upwards mentoring their CEO, highlighted the myth that ‘BAME communities don’t have the capacity to give’ and gave evidence on the high levels of volunteering in BAME communities. 


Panellist Umar Malik, who led Barnardo’s first zakat compliant appeal, joined in debunking the myth, pointing to Stormzy’s impact in awakening the sector to the potential of BAME giving. He urged charities to question their motives; and cautioned that actions are informed by intention; so, a motive of social justice, rather than financial benefit, would lead to success. 


Panellist Derek Bardowell, founding member of Thirty Percy Foundation, underlined the responsibility of charity leaders to acknowledge racial injustice, and their need for help to go through organisational change, because those who don’t, are failing in their duty, and risk doing more harm.


To keep up with Fundraising Everywhere and their accessible, affordable and engaging virtual training & events, follow them on Twitter @FundEverywhere. You can follow Martha and learn more about her work on Twitter at @MarthaAwojobi.


Don't forget to buy your own ticket to access the sessions here.