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Why intersectionality matters for charities

Headshot of Liz smiling, in front of a football goal.

9 July 2024

by Media Trust and Liz Ward



There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.

Audre Lorde

You might have heard the term ‘intersectionality’ recently. Maybe you’ve seen it in a book, on social media, or during a chat with colleagues. Intersectionality has become an essential term in conversations about multiple inequalities and interlocking identities. But what exactly does it mean, and why is it important for charities? 

This resource will unpack common questions around Intersectionality and explore why viewing our work through an intersectional lens is crucial for building a fairer and more inclusive third sector.  

With special mention and thanks to Liz Ward, expert facilitator, speaker, and consultant. This online resource is inspired and adapted from ‘Intersectionality Unpacked’, a session on Intersectionality delivered by Liz.

What is Intersectionality? 

Intersectionality, at its core, is the recognition that our experiences of discrimination and privilege are shaped by the fact that we all have multiple social identities. When these identities interlock, they create distinct experiences that can hold both unique types of privilege and discrimination. These identities can range across, but are not limited to, culture, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. 

I’ll use myself as an example. I’m Jodie, the Marketing Manager here at Media Trust. My experiences and identities intersect in unique ways. I identify as LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, female, and I live with multiple disabilities. These parts of my identity have led to experiences of discrimination and social isolation, but I also experience certain types of privilege since I’m white and cisgender.  

Regardless of whether these aspects of my identity are visible or hidden, they intersect and influence one and other, shaping the way I navigate the world. Intersectionality reminds us all that our lives are complex and simply cannot be reduced to single issues. 

Where has Intersectionality come from? 

Originally coined by activist Kimberlé Crenshaw, Intersectionality focuses on where areas of oppression and marginalisation intersect. But the concept of Intersectionality isn’t new. In fact, we can see discussions of intersectionality as far back as the 19th century from pioneers such as Sojourner Truth and her infamous speech, ‘Ain’t I a woman?’. But the term was introduced to us by Crenshaw, providing us all with a phrase that reflects a long history of interlocking oppressions.  

Why Intersectionality matters for charities

At their best, charities work tirelessly to improve the lives of individuals across society with no interest in gaining a profit. Good intentions, however, are not enough to ensure that our society’s most vulnerable people do not feel invisible. Considering Intersectionality is vital in ensuring our support is wide-reaching and effective. 

By understanding that everyone has multiple, overlapping identities, charities can create programmes and services that recognise individuals cannot simply ‘switch off’ parts of their identity 

Embedding Intersectionality  

So, you know what Intersectionality is, and why it’s important. What’s next? It’s time to look at embedding intersectionality in your day-to-day work and practice. 

Let’s say you’re working on an awareness raising campaign for your charity, and you want to ensure your campaign is intersectional. Liz recommends kicking off your planning using the LENS tool. 


  • Look at who is in the room 
  • Who isn’t? 
  • Are there are power dynamics at play?


  • Evaluate the messaging 
  • Are we avoiding a certain group? 
  • Erase the oppression barriers 
  • Is the campaign going to the heart of the issue? Or is it just a visual campaign? 


  • Nurture stories that we don’t always see 
  • Not just one time, a consistent commitment to build upon the story 
  • Navigate challenges, both internally and externally 
  • Are you ready to produce intersectional campaigns that will inevitably face friction and challenges? 


  • Slow down. The slower we are, the more reflective we are. It allows us to improve 
  • Share best practice, try to resist time pressures dampening your creativity and sharing 

Sharing your learning on Intersectionality 

A key part of committing to supporting intersectional identities is around starting conversations. Here are some questions to consider: 

  • Where is your influence when it comes to intersectionality?  
  • Who can you influence in your world?  
  • What third sector colleagues can you speak to about intersectional campaigns? 
  • How can you promote understanding on intersectionality in your day-to-day work? 

For more information, look no further than our Intersectional Storyteller’s Toolkit, a free five-day email series designed to enhance your charity’s intersectional approach in communications and media. 

Intersectional Storyteller's Toolkit

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