“Thirty-five years! I can’t believe it!”
That was the reaction of Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ first Executive Director, Nancy Cunningham, when current President, Ben Francisco Maulbeck, invited her to the inaugural Pride in Philanthropy Awards, celebrating 35 years of Funders for LGBTQ Issues and honoring the philanthropic leadership that has brought us to this moment.
When the organization was founded in 1982, we were a working group housed at National Network of Grantmakers (NNG) and foundation funding for LGBTQ issues totaled less than $250,000 annually. Today, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has nine staff and foundation funding for LGBTQ issues totals more than $160 million annually.
That is still a tiny fraction of the more than $55 billion foundations award each year, but it marks a significant improvement from 35 years ago. And that improvement took the work of a lot of leaders – both those we look forward to honoring at the Inaugural Pride in Philanthropy Awards and many more who have done so much for LBGTQ communities.
Our inaugural honorees for the Pride in Philanthropy Awards include:
Of course, the challenge now is to build on our progress and ensure lasting change for LGBTQ communities. In the words of Meg Coward, President and CEO of the Laughing Gull Foundation – which is being honored with the Out in the South Leadership Award:
“While there are many short-term urgent challenges facing LGBTQ philanthropy, I think the most urgent long-term challenge facing us is how to get LGBTQ issues permanently onto the radar screens of foundations that will never have an explicit LGBTQ focus. The only way we are going to tend to all of the needs of the LGBTQ community, particularly but not exclusively in vulnerable regions like the South, is to create a philanthropic culture in which the LGBTQ community is assumed to be a population that funders consistently pay attention to, within whatever their program areas might be.”
Denis Chicola, Director of Communications for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund – which is being honored with the Out for Impact Award – remarked that “working with other funders and the [LGBTQ] movement’s heroic leaders to help change hearts and minds on [marriage equality] was an inspiring and rewarding experience.” But he cautions, “There are people and interests out there that would like nothing more than to chip away at the hard-won rights for LGBTQ people across the nation.” He reminds us that as we move forward we also need to protect what we have already won. This is no time for philanthropy to step back.
As we look ahead, we are inspired by those who have paved our way as well as the emerging leaders in our field. Marco Antonio Quiroga, who will be honored with the Reed Erickson Trailblazing Leadership Award, reflects:
“As an undocumented and queer person of color, I never envisioned myself in philanthropy – it didn’t seem like it was something I could ever have access to. But in the response to the Pulse massacre, I’ve seen how powerful it can be when funders value the insights and wisdom of communities that are closest to both the challenges we face and the solutions we need. If we can keep doing that, then there’s no limit to the impact that LGBTQ philanthropy can achieve.”
The sold-out Pride in Philanthropy Awards ceremony will be held on November 2nd, 2017 at the Flatiron Room in New York City.
We extend a very special thanks to our sponsors who have made this event possible:
Platinum Sponsors: Foundation for A Just Society
Premier Sponsors: Evelyn And Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Jim Johnson And Paul Hokemeyer
Partner Sponsors: Amalgamated Bank, FMA – Fiscal Strength For Nonprofits, Gill Foundation, HRC Foundation, Maurizio Morello & Fulton Vittoria LLP, Van Ameringen Foundation