Funding for LGBTQ Issues Reaches Record High, Despite Lack of Support From Majority of 100 of the Largest Foundations

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Funding for LGBTQ Issues Reaches Record High, Despite Lack of Support From Majority of 100 of the Largest Foundations

By: Andrew Wallace on November 6, 2016

(New York, NY – February 24, 2016) Funders for LGBTQ Issues released The 2014 Tracking Report: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations (2016) today. The thirteen annual edition of the Tracking Report finds that although foundation funding for LGBTQ issues reached a record high of $153.2 million more than 6 in 10 of the 100 largest foundations in the United States provided no funding that specifically focused on LGBTQ communities.

The noteworthy 19 percent increase in funding for LGBTQ issues was driven largely by a significant increase in HIV/AIDS funding an increase in support from non-LGBTQ-focused funders. Highlights of the 2014 increase include the following:

  • LGBTQ-focused HIV/AIDS funding nearly doubled to $25 million, as new guidelines in 2014 recommended use of the drug Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV transmission in high risk populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans people.
  • Fueled by significant increases in funding to counter HIV/AIDS in trans communities, address the civil rights of trans people, improve the visibility of trans issues, and end transphobia, funding for transgender communities reached a record high of $12.9 million.
  • Funding for the U.S. South increased 40 percent to $11.3 million, with Texas and Georgia seeing an increase of $1 million and $500,000 respectively.

However, a more nuanced examination of the increase in funding reveals how precarious the funding for LGBTQ issues remains. The promising news in the 2014 Tracking Report is contradicted by alarming news regarding a decreasing number of grantmakers supporting LGBTQ issues and significant decreases in important funding areas. The report notes:

  • Currently 62 of the largest 100 foundations in the United States provided no funding specifically focused on LGBTQ communities. Of the 38 that did provide funding, only 5 awarded 1 percent or more of their grantmaking to LGBTQ issues.
  • Despite efforts to survey more philanthropic entities than ever before, the 2014 Tracking Report found only 313 institutions awarded LGBTQ-specific grants in 2014. This represents a 5-year low, as not since 2009 have so few funders supported LGBTQ issues.
  • Despite an overall increase in local funding for LGBTQ communities in the United States, roughly half of the states and the District of Columbia witnessed a decrease in funding.
  • Funding for communities of color as well as for children and youth also decreased.
  • Several significant sources of LGBTQ funding will be closing or decreasing their level of support in the near future. Added together, LGBTQ issues stand to lose an estimated $12.6-$15.3 million in philanthropic support over the next few years, accounting for 10 percent of funding at its current level.

“While this increase in LGBTQ funding is heartening news, I’m much more concerned about our finding that LGBTQ funding is likely to decrease by as much as 10 percent in the next year or two,” said Ben Francisco Maulbeck, President of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. “Last year’s victory for marriage equality was an inspiring step forward for LGBTQ rights, but it was a benchmark, not a finish line. Now is not the time for funders to close up shop on LGBTQ issues and go elsewhere. Now is a moment of urgent opportunity for funders to step up on LGBTQ issues as we never have before, and to take on bold leadership for addressing the challenges faced by LGBTQ communities. With continued support from current funders and more resources from new partners, we can make sure that transgender people can live safe lives free of violence and discrimination, that LGBTQ immigrants and people of color are treated with dignity, and that every young LGBTQ person has a place to call home.”

The 2014 Tracking Report represents Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ most sophisticated survey of philanthropic entities to date. To faithfully document the scope and character of foundation funding for LGBTQ issues, Funders for LGBTQ Issues analyzed more than 4,500 grants from more than 300 U.S.-based grantmakers. As such, this new report represents the most comprehensive assessment of LGBTQ funding available.

The report also includes an infographic that visually summarizes the findings. Both the infographic and full report are now available for download here.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues is a network of foundations, corporations, and other donors seeking to mobilize philanthropic resources that enhance the well-being of LGBTQ communities, promote equity and advance racial, economic and gender justice.

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