Why doesn’t the Institute of Fundraising pay its own intern?
5 October 2013 - Brendan Martin
The Institute of Fundraising (IOF) aims to be “an influential voice for fundraisers and to be an expert policy lead on fundraising and wider giving”, its website tells us, adding:

“Our policy team works to deliver a strong representative voice on behalf of our members that influences and effects change for the fundraising profession wherever it is needed.”

I am not a member, so mine is a suitably modest proposal for a policy change that the IOF might advocate: that charities stop exploiting young people by refusing to pay their interns. That scandal will continue as long as funders expect charities to bridge their capacity gaps with eager young graduates whose parents or connections enable them to work for nothing.  It will continue as long as NGOs that wax rhetorical about fair employment practice and equality of opportunity continue to defy those values in their own offices.  It will continue as long as founders of social enterprises convince themselves that their willingness to invest unpaid time in their venture means it is ok to share risks but not rewards with unpaid employees.

In short, it will continue as long as the third sector convinces itself that its core principle of voluntarism can be fairly applied to what are in reality jobs.

And, if the IOF is as influential as it claims to be, it will continue as long as the IOF itself thinks it is ok to advertise, as it did this week, for an unpaid intern whose job would involve:
•helping deliver a research project into diversity in fundraising;
•assisting in preparing briefings on Government activity;
•collaborating with other charity sector organisations; and
•supporting the team’s communications and press work.

The IOF says it is “the largest individual representative body in the voluntary sector with over 5,300 individual members and 340 organisational members”.  Can it really not afford even the national minimum wage (£6.19 per hour), let alone the London Living Wage (£8.55), for the important role envisaged for the intern?  For the three month period of the internship, the living wage would work out at less than 70 pence per individual or organisational member. I’d call that a fair trade.

As long as those members are willing to keep that 70 pence rather than pay a living wage to a valuable worker, I’d say IOF — like so many of its organisational members — has a major ethical issue at its own heart.  But if they think I’m wrong, I’d be happy to hear their argument about what makes their internship fair.

So here’s an open invitation to come to our workshop, with the Hub Kings Cross, to talk about what a Fair Trade Internship would be like, and how we get from here to there. All welcome — it’s free of charge and you can register here.

By Brendan Martin at Publicworld.org