A new study has found that workplace discrimination against Annual Giving fundraisers is still quite common at US charities.
Published in the Journal of Charity Hiring Practices & Scrapbooking, the new study by scientists as the University of Northern Southern Dakota found that more than thirty per cent of Annual Giving fundraisers say they face on-the-job discrimination by their Major Gifts colleagues. Half of those who reported discrimination say they face daily harassment in the workplace.
“We found that Annual Gifts people still face blatant discrimination and prejudice from their Major Gift dominated charities,” said lead research Dr. Dibble Brewer. “We heard from many Annual Gifts people that they have to use different bathrooms, they can’t drink out of the same coffee mugs and they have separate Christmas parties.”
The study found that as many has a third of US charities have restrictions on Annual Gifts fundraisers, including lunch rooms, bathrooms, types of office furniture and stationery. In a small number of cases in the US South, Annual Gifts staff were forced to work in “Mailrooms” in separate buildings from the rest of their colleagues.
Joe, an Annual Gifts Manager in Minnesota, says he was forced to use a separate water fountain at one charity he worked for.
“The Major Gifts people wouldn’t let be use the same water fountain as them. They said it was because I would gum it up with all the letters I had to lick closed. But I knew what they meant. They just didn’t want any of us dirty Annual Gifts people anywhere near them,” he said.
Sally, a direct mail specialist in Florida, said she was shocked when she was told that Annual Gifts people had to drink out of separate coffee mugs and use an older, pre-espresso coffee machine.
“They told me that they didn’t like my kind and that all I was good for was asking people for gifts under $100. And for that, I couldn’t get a latte like the Major Gifts fundraisers who regularly bring in gifts of tens of thousands of dollars,” she said.
Such conditions against Annual Gifts fundraisers supposedly came to an end twenty years ago after Federal legislation banned workplace discrimination in US charities. But Dr. Brewer says it still lives on in US charities across the country under different names.
At one major US charity, where Annual Gifts staff were prohibited from dating Major Gifts, Gift Planning or Gift Processing staff, managers said the discriminatory practice was a health and safety practice.
Dr. Brewer says until Federal and state authorities intervene the discrimination will likely continue. Wilma, an Annual Gifts office from a charity in Denver, says she hopes the study will change minds and hearts.
“I just want to be like everyone else. Just because I get people to make a donation every year instead of a pledge once every five years doesn’t mean I’m not a real person,” she said.
Meantime, Major Gifts leaders are dismissing the study as “unscientific” and “provocative”. Dennis Snidely, the President of the League of US Major Gifts Executives, told a news conference in New York that the study overstates the actions of a few, isolated US charities.
“The majority of American charities treat their Annual Giving people fairly and in accordance to the law,” he said. “Why, I myself have several of those Annual Giving people as my friends and they all say they don’t know anything about this discrimination stuff.”