EDI Update from the FSI’s CEO

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

I’m very sad to be leaving the FSI after six years, but I’m immensely proud of where the organisation has come from, and am confident I leave it in a fantastically strong place. One area in particular that I’ve been so proud to support over the last year is our work around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This is a much needed conversation in our sector, as we’ve seen the ramifications of inequality and discrimination highlighted even further in COVID-19. I firmly believe small charities need to be part of the solution, but there are many problems inherent in our charity models, and we at the FSI do have some opportunity to be part of this conversation. So we, as small charities and part of that system, need to be putting EDI at the heart of all of our work.

So, as promised in my last blog reflecting upon EDI, I wanted to share some updates on our EDI work. Some of it will be relevant to you as a member, but also to share some of the ways we’ve approached this as a small charity – hopefully some of this may be helpful and at the end we’ve linked to some of the tools and blogs that we’ve found useful along the way.

1. Getting the culture right – we’ve prioritised conversation around EDI as a team and board, and now have a quarterly review to keep us on track. We started by thinking big about where we want to be in 3-5 years’ time, and are working towards that – we know the change you want to make can feel overwhelming as a small organisation, so we’ve found this combination of dreaming and pragmatism necessary. Our board have also firmly voiced their commitment to EDI and to prioritising this internally and externally, which has been essential for committing the resource and time needed. This has meant the questions are always asked, and we’re accessing others’ (paid) expertise to help us on this journey.

2. Sharing our policies – We have also realised that whilst we had many policies in place, that they were not clear for members to see or access – so we have begun to make these more readily available on our website.

3. Course content we’re reviewing all course content to ensure EDI considerations are embedded throughout. For example, ethical storytelling is at the heart of our case for support course, board diversity is explored in even greater depth in our governance courses, and we talk about inclusive consultation in strategy development. We’re likewise building all these aspects into our consultancy services too. We have also collaboratively developed an EDI checklist used to review all content for a range of things like the accessibility of images and fonts through to the diversity of images/stories used. We’re also sharing this with external speakers/sponsors for any content they want to share with our members too. It’s going to take time for every single course to go through the full review but we’re pleased to have agreement from the board to invest additional resource to speed this up in 2021.

4. Showcasing experts – we are not experts in this field at all and we have huge respect for those leading the way. One of the first of those experts we engaged with was Martha Awojobi of JML and the BAME Conference fame. We have had the pleasure of inviting her to talk to both FSI staff and our qualification bursary learners on tackling racism within fundraising. It was so good we decided to include it as an extra session within the on-demand Skills Conference – do check it out if you haven’t yet.

5. Using technology - We have tested and piloted lots of different technologies to improve access for members who be deaf or have hearing difficulties, from providing ‘live closed captioning’ functionality on our webinars using REV.com through to adding closed captioning to recordings and creating an Accessible Videos library. It hasn’t been perfect and we’ve had a few mishaps along the way, but we would definitely recommend using a system like this and we are trying to hone our skills in the technology as quickly as possible. We have also added more information on our FAQ and event emails on accessing accessibility support. We continue to learn and implement support required. We’re still developing our technology skills to support accessibility, but ultimately this is a priority for us, even as a small team, and will do what we can to make it work, so don’t forget to let us know.

6. Flexibility for members – We recognise the need for flexibility in all our lives now, not just because of the pandemic but also for access needs, caring responsibilities, parenting etc. and in response have adapted our attendance/deposit policy to allow greater flexibility should you need to leave early or step away during a course.

7. Recruitment – Being a Person of Colour/BAME and leading a small charity I have been in a fortunate position to support the team’s passion to provide opportunities to create greater diversity in our staff, volunteer, associates and speakers. Actively reviewing our speaking opportunities, asking our sponsors to consider diversity in their speakers and also raising the question of other organisations about the diversity of the speakers when we have been asked to speak. More recently, our development team have spearheaded our Associate recruitment by trialling the ‘blind recruitment’ method to remove unconscious bias in the recruitment process, in addition to promoting the opportunity through multiple new channels to improve diversity in applications. We look forward to feeding back on how the process was and what we learned.

8. Engaging Funders – Many ideas have been generated through our EDI meetings but sadly we don’t have a ‘Money Tree’ to shake to allow us to implement them all. However we have begun to work with funders to help realise some of these projects such as the BAME bursary for our qualifications that enabled 20 BAME individuals working in or for BAME small charities to develop their fundraising knowledge and skills - thanks to National Lottery community Fund. We continue to develop new targeted programmes and hope to collaborate (and challenge) funders in the future.

So, just a flavour of what we have been trying to implement. Yes, we are pleased with what we have tried to achieve, but we want to learn and do more in this space as the FSI continues on its EDI journey! 

Amber Shotton CEO