Emma Lewzey is a fundraiser’s friend, especially if you’re a fundraiser who is different – from a marginalized community.
I first came across her on Twitter (@EmmaLewzey) and grew to respect her informative guidance on fundraising and philanthropy in Canada.
A socially minded fundraiser and a donor to a number of Toronto-area charities, Emma willingly shares her wisdom with our community during these interesting times.
Check out her blog on speaking out, first posted on fellow fierce fundraiser Sheena Greer’s blog which was later picked up by Hilborn e-news here.
“I feel for my colleagues who can’t take a public stance about political issues,” Emma said when I spoke with her over the phone last week. “At some organizations, speaking out about political issues can put you at real risk in terms of job security.
“I’m in a position where I’m working for myself now [consulting]. I have an opportunity to express and stay true to my values; say what I want to say.”
This led to a discussion about her “ever-evolving” career journey which she poetically coins an “organic unfolding” that took place after a sabbatical last summer. She recommends building some time away from your day-to-day role to reflect and shape future career possibilities.
“I’m interested in work that brings both fundraising expertise and my commitment to diversity and inclusion together,” she said.
In addition to consulting, Emma is active in numerous governance roles with AFP. She serves on the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada board and recently joined the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter’s board as VP Inclusion & Equity. She is also chairing the AFP Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy, a provincially-funded initiative that has a two-pronged goal: provide education and support to diverse fundraisers; and empower fundraisers to create diversity and inclusion resource capacity in the non-profit sector.
I found the Fellowship’s 2016 impact report an inspirational read here.
(I told you Emma is a fundraiser’s friend!)
We talked about how to develop fundraising strategies that include diverse and inclusive communities.
“The tone is set at the top, with volunteer leadership, at the board and committee level,” she said.
“For savvy donors who are interested in and value inclusive participation, they look at the diversity of your board. How serious are you about diversity and inclusion at your organization?”
Going beyond fundraising efforts, Emma emphasized the pervasiveness of barriers to access, at all levels of the organization and sector.
“Our strategies are broader than fundraising alone: look at the organization’s leadership, human resource practices – having diverse representation on staff – and people being skilled in cultural competencies.
“There is no quick fix; it’s complex and slow-moving at times. We need to have more meaningful structures in place, so diversity and inclusiveness become embedded in non-profits,” she said.
The development of a board recruitment policy that any non-profit could access and model to help increase its own candidate pool, is one example of the kind of solutions posed by Fellowship recipients.
“Addressing the lack of diversity in fundraising leadership is an ongoing focus of the AFP Inclusive Giving project,” she said, mentioning that AFP is interested in continuing this work outside of Ontario.
It’s welcomed news for fundraising and related professionals who are based in provinces like BC where minority populations are fast becoming the majority.
Emma stressed the need for continuous dialogue, perhaps even planning a future AFP learning where fundraising professionals from different communities come together and talk about the challenges they face in the non-profit sector.
She praised AFP’s commitment and investment in diversity and inclusion as pillars of strategic strength:
“It’s heartening that our professional association understands [diversity and inclusion] are crucial to the future of our profession.”
We discussed other topics, including Emma’s most memorable experiences working with A Few Great Women donors. I’ll reserve her stories for a future “Take Two” blog post this Spring. Do please stay tuned to learn more about this change-making fundraiser.
P.S. – The inclusive fundraiser wanted to share two opportunities to access professional development funding with you, dear readers: The AFP Diverse Communities Scholarship covers international conference fees and travel. AFP is looking for applicants starting this fall, so bookmark this link for more details.
Fellow Canadians have access to a variety of education offerings through a scholarship program here. The deadline is approaching: March 15, 2017.