“London Calling”: A New Home

20

FEBRUARY 2020

Three days into 2020, I relocated to London from Washington, D.C.

Like most complex, invigorating, and remarkable decisions, several things prompted this move.

One was very personal: in October 2019, I married a Londoner I met four years ago while spending time in the U.K. and the Continent. Life has a way of surprising us, in this instance, very pleasantly so. It is wonderful to create a home with John and bring our two families together.

And one was professional. London is an outstanding place for the business of fundraising and nonprofit consulting. Like Washington, D.C., London is central to global affairs, a city influenced by a rich intellectual, academic, financial, and artistic landscape. Philanthropy, the voluntary sector, international humanitarian issues, and social justice are evolving, shifting to accommodate the changes in politics as well as policy. Central issues such as climate change and increasing nationalism bring new urgency to our work—and the work of our clients

I am humbled by how much there is to be done at this very moment. What is it that our firm can do, in partnership with great clients, to repair this broken world?

 

A move like this, in which our center of gravity shifts from Washington, D.C. to London, has led me to recommit to our central values as a firm.
Those values are:

Social justice: These are very complex times socially, culturally, and politically. How do we deploy our skills as a firm to assist clients who are doing the kind of work that brings meaningful social change, with lasting impact? We have to be discerning about which clients we accept, ones that understand that justice is not charity. And we have to be sophisticated about the urgency of our work. An organization might have started to address one problem, but the intersectionality of racism, sexism, poverty, climate change, and dislocation requires an organization to frame problems and solutions in new ways. We must be smart partners with clients facing these urgent twists and turns.

Ethics: Fundraising ethics go well beyond the codes of ethics for the Association for Fundraising Professionals (U.S.) and the Institute of Fundraising (U.K.). I am inspired by the commitment to excellence in these two professional organizations. However, as I, an outsider but one of tremendous privilege, settle into this multicultural country, I know that I must reflect on the ethics of “serving” and “helping” people through fundraising. These considerations go beyond the codes of ethics. I am particularly excited to be participating in a global, three-part  discussion for people who identify as white, with Jennifer Lentfer and MaryAnn Clements, on the experience of working in international development. What a vital conversation at this moment, central to the ethics of fundraising.

Passion: I am a constant learner, and London has so much to offer. As a member of Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs), I have heard presentations by Stacy Abrams on voter suppression and Amal Clooney on protocols to protect journalists, to name just a few. Major conferences sponsored by Bond, Institute of Fundraising, and the European Foundation Centre, which I have attended for several years by flying across the ocean, are now a train ride away. I am prepared to be deeply engaged and excited every day.

Mentorship: Speaking of passion, I want more and more people to know how fundraising fuels great organizations—and great organizations need great fundraisers. Our Racing Upwards fellowship offers paid internships to people of color to increase their competitive edge by learning more about fundraising. We have had three fellows since Racing Upwards was launched. I welcome a chance to host more people new to fundraising, whose career paths include working for social change and justice.

On a very practical note, RHI Fundraising LLC remains based in Maryland, and we will continue to serve clients wherever they are in the world. But having a presence in both the U.S. and the U.K. broadens our ability to be deeply involved in global solutions.

For more information about our services, contact Robin Heller, at robin@rhifundraising.com. Learn more at our website.

 

+1 215 292 7476
robin@rhifundraising.com
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