Local Funders Stepping up for LGBTQ Issues

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Local Funders Stepping up for LGBTQ Issues

By: Andrew Wallace on December 19, 2016


This fall, Funders for LGBTQ Issues collaborated with local partners in seven cities to advance philanthropy for LGBTQ communities. These events ranged from panel discussions to immersion tours, but at each one we explored the most urgent needs facing LGBTQ communities.

Across the country, local funders are stepping up their leadership for LGBTQ communities and exploring innovative models, such as developing LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods, building a local center for LGBTQ philanthropy, and convening cross-sector partnerships to address youth homelessness. We wanted to share highlights from our travels with you here.

Jump Ahead to: Cleveland / Phoenix / Seattle / Missoula / Jacksonville / Spartanburg / New York

Cleveland, Ohio

Event: Out in Ohio Tour – An Immersion in Cleveland’s LGBTQ Community
Date: September 8-9, 2016
Partners: Cleveland Foundation, Foundation Center Midwest

The Local Funding Picture: Between 2011 and 2014 $3.6 million in foundation funding for LGBTQ issues was invested in Ohio. The state ranked among the top funded states in the Midwest in 2014, just behind Illinois and Michigan, yet funding per LGBTQ adult was just $4.93, far behind New York’s $18.16. The Cleveland Foundation along with the Akron Community Foundation have stepped up as leaders among local funders.

What Happened: Ohio Ambassadors, Kristi Andrasik of the Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz of Foundation Center Midwest partnered with us to organize a truly unique funder tour. A diverse group of 40 funders spent two days immersed in the local LGBTQ community. The group visited the LGBT Community Center, an LGBTQ night club, a social justice oriented church, and many other hubs of LGBTQ community.

Funders and community leaders developed real relationships as the normal trapping of a conference fell away and our visit became a true immersion. You can learn more about the immersion tour in a blogpost from participants here and here.

Why It’s Exciting: Local and national funders of all stripes came together to get to know a community. National funders walked away with a deepened understanding of how to support localized LGBTQ communities and local funders left with a stronger sense of the realities facing LGBTQ people in their own backyard.

Phoenix, Arizona

Event: Accelerating Philanthropy in Arizona’s LGBTQ Community
Date: October 24, 2016
Partners: Arizona Community Foundation, Gill Foundation

The Local Funding Picture: LGBTQ funding for Arizona increased between 2011 and 2014, exceeding $600,000 in 2014. However, relative to the size of Arizona’s LGBTQ population, the state has the lowest level of foundation funding for LGBTQ issues in the Southwest, an average of $3.16 per LGBTQ adult. More than half of LGBTQ funding in Arizona focused on advancing civil rights.

What Happened: The Arizona Community Foundation’s Center for LGBTQ Philanthropy hosted a forum of local donors and LGBTQ community leaders to discuss how LGBTQ philanthropy is shifting in the wake of last year’s victory for marriage equality. Funders for LGBTQ Issues President Ben Francisco Maulbeck and Gill Foundation Director of Programs (and Funders trustee) Brandie Balkin presented on national trends in LGBTQ philanthropy The presentation was followed by a panel of local leaders discussing local trends and needs.

Why It’s Exciting: Recognizing that many challenges remain for LGBTQ communities in the wake of marriage equality, the Arizona Community Foundation’s Center for LGBTQ Philanthropy is expanding and deepening its support for LGBTQ communities in Arizona. In particular, the Center is working to address issues such as protections from discrimination, older adults, transgender communities, and youth homelessness.

Seattle, Washington

Event: LGBTQ Philanthropy in the Northwest: The Grantmaking Trends, Gaps, and Opportunities
Dates: September 30, 2016
Partners: Philanthropy Northwest, Raikes Foundation, Pride Foundation

The Local Funding Picture: Foundation funding for LGBTQ issues has decreased in Washington state, from a high of $2.2 million in 2012 to just under $1 million in 2014. Currently, $4.54 LGBTQ grant dollars are directed to each LGBTQ adult in the state, down from a high of $10.55 in 2012. Much of the influx of funds the state received in 2012 were directed towards advocacy for marriage/civil unions, receiving $1.3 million in 2012.

What Happened: Our funder briefing brought together speakers including Kris Hermanns, CEO of the Pride Foundation, Kiyomi Fujikawa, of Borealis Philanthropy, and Kristina Wertz, our own Director of Engagement, to address LGBTQ funding in the Northwest. The briefing was an intimate conversation that both engaged funders on the national landscape of LGBTQ philanthropy and zoomed in on regional issues, such as youth homelessness, Two-Spirit funding, food security, and poverty.

Why It’s Exciting: Our annual conference, Funding Forward, will take place in Seattle in March of 2017. It is exciting to see so many local funders coming together to connect and strategize how they can prioritize LGBTQ communities within their funding strategies. We’re excited to continue the conversation in March!


Missoula, Montana

Event: Workshop at Philanthropy Northwest: Developing and Integrating an Intersectional Equity Lens in Grantmaking Strategies
Dates: September 14, 2016
Partners: Philanthropy Northwest, Pride Foundation

The Local Funding Picture: Between 2011 and 214 Montana received a total of $526,241 in foundation funding for LGBTQ issues. In 2014 the state received $76,400 foundation dollars, or $3.75 per each LGBTQ adult, a decrease from a high of $191,932 in 2013. In 2014, the majority of foundation funding went towards health issues, with 48% of funding directed to general health services and health promotion.

What Happened: Our session at the Philanthropy Northwest conference explored the lived reality, community needs, and structural discrimination LGBTQ people face and the intersections of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, immigration status, class and other marginalized experiences. We contextualized the funding landscape for these communities and offered an intersectional equity lens for community engagement and grantmaking.

Why It’s Exciting: The workshop explored how different foundations are thinking about LGBTQ issues through a lens of equity to make greater impacts on issues ranging from community health to homelessness. We left the 35 representatives from foundations across the Northwest with concrete applications to apply in their own work.

Jacksonville, Florida

Event: Southeastern Council of Foundation’s (SECF) Annual Meeting
Dates: November 9-11, 2016
Partners: SECF, CHANGE Philanthropy, ABFE, EPIP, NCRP, and Grantmakers for Southern Progress

The Local Funding Picture: Florida has benefitted from a steady increase in foundation funding for LGBTQ issues and was one of the top-funded states in the South in 2014, receiving just over $2 million. In 2014, the largest portion of funding – 34% – was directed towards community, family, and visibility in 2014.

What Happened: We organized three events at the SECF conference to further our commitment to support LGBTQ communities in the South. We convened the first meeting of the Out in the South Advisory Council, hosted a reception for equity-minded funders, and organized a post-conference session focused on violence against marginalized communities to highlight funder responses to the Pulse massacre and recent police-involved killings of black men in the South.

Why It’s Exciting: Our relationships with Southern funders continue to deepen. Building our network of funders committed to creating change in the South is more important than ever in the post-election political landscape. We were proud to provide a space for funders to connect, heal and strategize about how to respond at this time.

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Event: Spartanburg LGBT Fund Fundraiser
Date: October 5, 2016
Partners: Spartanburg County Foundation, Freeman Foundation

The Local Funding Picture: Foundation funding for LGBTQ issues in South Carolina declined from 2011 to 2014, from a high of $113,500 in 2011 to under $50,000 in 2014. Foundation funding per LGBTQ adult reached just $0.42 in 2014, making South Carolina the second lowest funded state in the South.

What Happened: We joined the Spartanburg LGBT Fund for its inaugural fundraiser. Over 50 people came to hear about organizations doing great work to support LGBTQ people and their families in Spartanburg, including Piedmont Care, USC Upstate Women’s and Gender Studies Department, Upstate Pride and Spartanburg PFLAG.

Why It’s Exciting: This is a first for Spartanburg! The launch of the fund ignited a community conversation about local LGBT issues and raised much needed funds for local organizations. This is a perfect example of the kind of place-based funding we are working to catalyze.

New York, New York

Event: Funder Briefing on Poverty in the LGBTQ Community
Date: October 18, 2016
Partners: Arcus Foundation, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Johnson Family Foundation, Philanthropy New York, Stonewall Community Foundation

Local Funding Picture: Between 2011 and 2014 foundation funding for LGBTQ issues in New York state totaled $42.4 million. While funding fluctuated slightly each year, annual support remained near or above $10 million. In 2014, 13% of all LGBTQ grant dollars ($1.7 million) were directed to economic issues.

What Happened: Funders for LGBTQ Issues hosted a briefing to share information and strategize about how to increase funding for LGBTQ people living in poverty. The session began with a look at poverty in the LGBTQ community, highlighting the ways stigma and discrimination leads to higher rates of poverty among LGBT communities. A group of activists, researchers, and service providers then participated in a discussion about service, program and policy responses to poverty. The event ended with a conversation between funders who are already prioritizing issues of LGBTQ poverty in their grantmaking.

Why It’s Exciting: The briefing was an opportunity for funders committed to addressing poverty, food insecurity, housing and homelessness, or other issues facing low-income Americans to hear from service providers, policy advocates, and fellow funders who are working at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. As a group, we explored ways to ensure grantmaking takes into account the unique experiences of the LGBTQ community.

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