bbcon 2020: Four tips for curating an inclusive event

October 15, 2020 Toni Gregory

Last Thursday, on the third and final day of bbcon 2020 virtual, Martha Awojobi took to the virtual stage and shared her learnings from curating the UK’s first ever BAME fundraising conference. Martha is a non-profit management consultant and one of the organisers of #CharitySoWhite – a campaign group with the mission of tackling institutional racism within the charity sector.  

BAME led organisations within the charity sector were identified as one of the most vulnerable in COVID-19 times, with 87% facing potential closure without urgent funding. Despite having never curated a conference before, Martha set about working with Fundraising Everywhere to create an event that would provide a valuable opportunity for BAME led organisations to network and access tools, training and other collaborators. The final result was 44 speakers, 6000 virtual tickets and being the number two trending topic on UK Twitter. 

We’ve taken a few key pieces of advice from Martha's full talk, Key steps to event curation success: Insights from the first ever BAME conference, and shared them with you below. 

What does BAME look like? 

BAME stands for Black, Asian and minority ethnic, but the term can often be used in a very broad way. Martha shared the statistic that at a junior level, the charity sector is made up of 9% people of colour. In leadership roles people of colour make up 5.3%. But who exactly is within that figure? What does BAME cover in this context? Which ethnicities are they? There are many different intersecting identities within BAME, so if you’re advertising your event as BAME inclusive then really look at who you’re representing within your line-up.  

Part with your ego 

“I've never worked in a BAME organisation before. I'm an organiser of #CharitySoWhite and, after campaigning for BAME led orgs, I had some insight into their challenges. I thought I did. But, after meeting and consulting with 50 people of color from organisations large and small, I realised how little I knew.” 

When curating an event, always think back to 1) the core proposition of the event 2) the audience that you’re trying to serve. You want to create the best sessions possible that meet all of your objectives, and exceed your expectations, which often means parting with your ego to accept that your own ideas may not be the best ones. Ask for input from others who represent the people you want to reach and embrace the learnings you’ll find along the way. 

Reach beyond your immediate network 

Whilst you will need to make full use of your existing networks and connections, such as those on your LinkedIn, you’ll also benefit from going one step further and reaching out to those that you don’t already know. If there are existing organisations who meet your audience demographic or who, in part, create the type of content that you want to showcase then get in touch and ask for their recommendations. Curating an event is hard work, there’s no shame in needing help and openly asking for it.  

Whose voice is missing? 

Once you’ve started putting together your speaker list take a moment to pause, review and map out the identities within your speakers. Whose voice is missing? Think about the different intersecting identities within your sector, not just race and ethnicity but also sexuality, gender and ability. Ask for specific speaker recommendations so that you can craft a space which includes all of those who are essential members of the non-profit community. 

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