Out in the South is a five-year initiative to increase the scale and impact of foundation funding for LGBTQ communities in the U.S. South.
Background: History and Need
In 2013, a group of Funders for LGBTQ Issues members with roots in the South gathered around the shared concern that Southern LGBTQ communities faced stark needs and were severely under-resourced. The group commissioned Funders for LGBTQ Issues to assess the current state of funding for LGBTQ communities in the South. This resulted in the first Out in the South report, which found that, at the time, the South received $1.71 in foundation funding per LGBTQ adult, compared to $10.10 for the Northeast.
Spurred by this under-funding of the region, a group of Southern and national funders worked collaboratively to develop strategies for bringing more resources to the region, resulting in the Out in the South Initiative.
The Out in the South Initiative has developed several core strategies for increasing the scale and impact of foundation funding for LGBTQ communities in the South:
- Catalyzing locally driven LGBTQ philanthropy: The Out in the South Fund provides planning grants, matching funds, and technical assistance to stimulate the creation and growth of local LGBTQ funds and Southern funding collaboratives across the South. The unique power of this model is its two-level impact: (1) it builds up local LGBTQ funds and Southern funding collaboratives as a sustainable source of LGBTQ philanthropy; and (2) local LGBTQ funds and Southern funding collaboratives in turn serve as a vehicle for strengthening local LGBTQ community organizations. The first round of grants for the Out in the South Fund was awarded in 2016, providing more than $500,000 for 11 LGBTQ funds.
- Raising awareness of needs and opportunities for funding Southern LGBTQ communities: We offer funder briefings, trainings, and informational materials that help funders explore how LGBTQ issues intersect with their current funding priorities and how they can support local efforts to foster more LGBTQ-inclusive communities. So as to reach new audiences, we do much of this work in collaboration with other networks of funders.
- Building a network of funders committed to strengthening LGBTQ communities in the South: We convene funders by phone and in-person to to learn more about how Southern LGBTQ communities intersect with their funding interests and to share experiences and best practices. The Network is comprised of both funders that have a long history of supporting LGBTQ issues in the South, as well as those that are new to funding in this area or are considering it for the first time.
Progress to Date
The Out in the South Initiative has already made substantive progress toward its goal of increasing foundation funding for Southern LGBTQ communities. As detailed in this update, LGBTQ funding for the South increased from $4.8 million in 2012 to $11.3 million in 2014.