Diversity drives innovation

: Tom Dixon

How can we all make the sector more diverse? Convention board member Tom Dixon explores how this year's Convention tackles that question...

For me, the topic of diversity and the broad range of under-represented groups in fundraising really strikes a chord. I’m proud to work for Scope, a charity that works incredibly hard to get disabled people into, and staying in, employment. I'm also proud to be on the board of the IoF Fundraising Convention where there will be a focus on how we can all make the sector more diverse.

Diversity really does drive innovation. No matter which under-represented group we talk about, when we limit who can contribute, we in turn limit the problems we can solve. 

This is way more than just an altruistic endeavour. There are nearly seven million people of working age in the UK who are disabled or have a long-term health condition. There is a huge gap between disabled people who want to work and those who can get a job. When we talk to people connected to Scope there are stories of people applying to more than 150 jobs and not getting an interview until they remove the fact that they are disabled from their CV. This has to change, and we are all responsible for making this happen. 

Being financially secure and contributing to society is important to everyone. There are obvious benefits to the individuals we support – increased confidence, learning new skills, and building relationships. Employers benefit from widening the net of potential talent, creating a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers they serve, and bringing additional skills and knowledge to a business.

We should all take the time to think about this at this year’s Fundraising Convention where many angles of diversity will be tackled across all tracks. 

The sessions are designed to help you apply elements of diversity for both equality and better fundraising. Some of these sessions that I’m really excited about include:

• The Colour of Wealth – The business case for diversity and inclusion, how we can benefit from a larger talent pool and a wealth of disposable income

• Pride in Fundraising – Better engaging the LGBTQ+ community

• Using Insight to Build a Global Legacy Programme – Targeting a diverse, global audience

We have some incredible plenary speakers, including June Sarpong who will talk about the social, moral and economic benefits of diversity, how we as a society create stereotypes, and how this negatively impacts our social interactions both overtly and covertly. This promises to be inspiring and thought-provoking.

The Leadership Panel will discuss issues such as how diverse the sector is and how we as leaders can help to change and shape this for the future.

Scope will be there talking on a couple of topics, one being on an innovative product we launched last year called Mindful Monsters. Continued awareness of mental health issues is so important (there is a session specifically on mindfulness in the personal effectiveness track) and this continues the discussion around diversity and inclusion by ensuring that we think of other people’s needs, and that we are also looking after ourselves.

Fundraising Convention always brings fundraisers together to try to be the best they can be. It is the time of the year that I reflect on what I am working on and have achieved and what I want to achieve in the coming year. It doesn’t matter whether you specialise in a certain area or you are a fundraiser of all trades, there will be something there for you. 

Fundraising is a wonderful profession. Opportunities like Fundraising Convention give you the best chance to excel in it and take great pride in what you do. 

Tom Dixon, Fundraising Convention Board member and Head of Philanthropy at Scope. 

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