I am coming up on my first anniversary as a consultant with Our Fundraising Search, and I’m realizing that it has really been quite a growth experience. Each of our team members “fit” into certain roles. Consider our leadership…I think of our Founder, Linda Wise McNay, PhD, as the historian. She has had so many rich experiences and accomplished so much in her career. I learn something every time I speak with her. Dave Paule, Principal & Managing Director, is passionate about nonprofits running effectively and efficiently. Ailena Parramore, Principal & Director of Practice, is just as passionate about our clients and their donors. And, me? I’m the advocate for the fundraisers. We see so many great candidates every month, and I want to find all of them incredible jobs.

So, what does this have to do with Black History Month, which is drawing to a close, and Women’s History Month, which begins on March 1? For me, as a black woman in fundraising, quite a lot.

Women of all races can attest to their leadership decisions being questioned. Because of our intersectionality (being Black & a woman), Black women in fundraising/nonprofits experience it from both sides: their donors and their colleagues. This can leave us feeling exhausted and alone.

I am a member of F3 Fabulous Female Fundraisers, an organization founded to empower women of color in fundraising. F3 was formed out of necessity to celebrate womanhood, professional development, and the impact all of us can make, individually and collectively. The reality is, many Black women are often marginalized, overlooked or dismissed, regularly being brought in only to fix broken orgs/system in nonprofits. F3 provides that safe space of support, reassurance, camaraderie and sisterhood, giving us the fuel we need to continue to do good work.

Linda tells the story about how, when she first got into fundraising at her alma mater thirty years ago, the men on the staff discussed whether a woman was even capable of fundraising. Fast forward to today, and the profession is seventy percent female. To me, this shows, progress is possible.

While not perfect, Corporate America is generally recognized as having moved farther and faster than nonprofits in advancing DEI initiatives and training. Customers and investors have driven much of the change by holding those companies accountable. But, who holds nonprofits accountable on that front? Typically, small and resource strapped, those types of HR initiatives aren’t undertaken or even seen as necessary in the nonprofit world.

Many nonprofits serve marginalized communities, and yet their HR policies don’t reflect the needs of those same communities as employees. And, often, they don’t even recognize the sad irony of the fact. So, what are we doing about it?

The fundraising profession is over eighty percent white, which also shows that much more progress is necessary. At the recent F3 Annual retreat, we conducted a “remain standing if” exercise. e.g., “Remain standing if you have a mentor. Remain standing if you have female colleague of color, etc.” When asked about professional allies and advocates, most of the room was already seated. Only three of us were left standing when it came to having a white man or woman as an allies or advocates. Two of us, including myself, identified Dave Paule as that person. In one way, the exercise was a little depressing. On the other hand, it also showed me that organizations like F3 are essential to building momentum for a more diverse profession.

Clients often ask us about the diversity of our candidates. Our Fundraising Search has a commitment to diversity that I can now, personally, attest to. Our candidate pools and recommended slates are, on average, 30% non-white. And, when we find a candidate we like, we keep putting them forward until they land in the right job. In that sense, I feel like we are making a difference.

Do I wish we could make change come faster? Of course I do. But, I’ve got a seat at the table making change happen now. I like being part of building the future.

I also challenge other organizations to do so as well.

Feature photo courtesy of Belonging at Georgia State University.


  • Jenneh Scott

    Jenneh Scott is a Consultant with Our Fundraising Search and is the Director of Development at Morehouse College. She consults on philanthropic and development strategies for local and international nonprofits. She is an innovative development professional with proven record of raising millions of dollars towards social development projects. Currently she is the Director of Development at Morehouse College and is passionate about funding programs that support underserved and underrepresented communities.