Regretfully, #FF2020 is not going forward as planned

Funding Forward 2020 is not going forward as planned.


Dear Community,

I’m writing with disappointing news. After careful consideration, the staff and board of directors of Funders for LGBTQ Issues came to the heartbreaking decision that we cannot in good conscience put the health and safety of our #FF2020 participants at risk given the current outbreak of COVID-19.

In making our decision, foremost in our mind was our social justice mission, and, in particular, our commitment to disability justice. Many of our members, speakers, and other conference participants are HIV-positive, are older adults, have other health concerns, or are primary caregivers for people with vulnerable immune systems. In recent days, as we received a growing number of cancellations and concerned inquiries, it became clear that it would be untenable to host Funding Forward as planned.

We know that you have likely already booked travel and that many of you have put significant work into preparing for the conference. We apologize for this change in plans. We hope to minimize the disruption for all of you.

Plans for Delivering Conference Content

I will be working in collaboration with the Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ staff, board of directors, and membership as well as the #FF2020 planning committee and sponsors to chart the best possible path forward. Our goal is figuring out how to most effectively deliver the important conference content to you.

In the near term, our plan is to deliver the most timely content from Funding Forward via webinar in the weeks to come. In particular, we will offer three 1.5-hour webinars on the days the conference was originally scheduled. If you’re able, we ask that you hold the following times to join us virtually:

  • Wednesday, March 25th – 1-2:30 pm EST
  • Thursday, March 26th – 1-2:30 pm EST
  • Friday, March 27th – 1-2:30 pm EST

These webinars will provide an initial offering of virtual content. We are also exploring additional potential virtual content in April and beyond, as well as other creative ways to accomplish the original goals of the conference. In particular, a core goal of this year’s Funding Forward has been to spotlight LGBTQ funding opportunities in Chicago and the Midwest–which now receives the lowest amount of LGBTQ funding per LGBTQ adult of any region in the U.S. We remain committed to this goal and will work with our local members and partners to find other ways to highlight the unique needs, assets, and opportunities for LGBTQ grantmaking in the Midwest.

Registration Refunds

We will issue full registration refunds to those who request them. To process a refund, please contact Nicole Fernandes, Finance and Administrative Associate, at [email protected]. If you and your organization are in a position to make your registration fee a donation to Funders for LGBTQ Issues, such generosity would be greatly appreciated and would help us offset the costs we have already incurred for the conference. We are grateful for the leadership of Borealis Philanthropy, Laughing Gull Foundation, the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the Simmons Foundation, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and others for proactively adopting policies to not request refunds from conference cancellations in this difficult time.

Cancelling Your Hotel Reservation

If you booked your accommodations at the Kimpton Allegro in Chicago through our hotel block, we will automatically cancel your reservation. If you booked your hotel room outside of the block or were planning on staying elsewhere, please contact that hotel about cancellations.

Managing Other Travel Arrangements

Many of you planned to travel to the Windy City for our annual gathering of grantmakers committed to LGBTQ issues. American Airlines, Delta, and United are all waiving cancellation and change fees. Other airlines are expected to follow suit. We suggest you contact your airline sooner rather than later about changing your travel arrangements and stay abreast of fee waivers.

Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Communities

We encourage all in our community to take care of ourselves and one another in this challenging and unpredictable time. For your own health and wellbeing, please see these helpful tips from the World Health Organization (WHO).

We also recommend that our community grantmakers consider the impact of this outbreak on grantees. What does it mean for already cash strapped LGBTQ movement organizations to have to cancel their events and fundraisers? What are the implications of having to set up alternative work arrangements for their staff? How can we continue to best support LGBTQ people and LGBTQ movement organizations in this environment? While our network will continue to probe those questions with our membership, it is never too soon to start thinking about how grantmakers can best support grantees.

We also feel it is incumbent upon all of us to speak out against racism and xenophobia and to help raise awareness that nothing about the COVID-19 virus is race-based. Our sister philanthropic network Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy put out a detailed statement outlining ways that funders can address the stigma faced by Asian American communities in the midst of this outbreak.


I’m lucky enough to have a job that I absolutely love. For me and for my coworkers at Funders, Funding Forward is a joy to organize. We love developing the content, we love building a welcoming and supportive community, and we love the opportunity to work closely with you–our members and partners. We are all experiencing a great sense of loss at not getting to host our favorite event of the year. I imagine that many of you are experiencing similar feelings, not only around the cancellation of Funding Forward, but also the slew of cancelled events and trips that many of us are facing.

I’m particularly appreciative of all of our partners and members who have put so much thought, work, and energy into planning Funding Forward these past 12 months:

  • The Funding Forward 2020 planning committee who put in countless hours on video calls to design a program that highlights key opportunities to increase support for LGBTQ communities while centering Midwestern voices.
  • Our sponsors who provided critical resources to allow us to host a high quality, productive, and fun gathering of grantmakers committed to LGBTQ issues.
  • The nearly 70 speakers who generously offered their time and expertise in order educate funders and strategize about increasing and improving grantmaking for our communities.
  • The session organizers who worked behind the scenes to envision the conference sessions and coordinated with speakers and the conference organizers on countless details.

I am so appreciative to all of these individuals, and so sorry that our work is being cut short. We will do our best to work with you to accomplish our shared goals in whatever way we can in the months to come.

The year 2020 is proving to provide even more curveballs than we expected. Even in these challenging times, please know that Funders for LGBTQ Issues will continue to be a space for us to learn from each other, coordinate our work, and take care of each other.


Kristina Wertz
Vice President of Engagement and Philanthropic Outreach