I am very fortunate and grateful to take over as Chair of the Funders board this year. I’m fortunate because I’ve stepped into a leadership role at an organization with a top-notch staff and board as well as a network of funder colleagues who are investing their time and resources to ensure that the LGBT field has an effective and impactful philanthropic affinity group. I’m grateful to be following Andy Lane as Board Chair, who shepherded Funders through a challenging transition period to deliver into my care an organization that has gained the confidence of our sector and has raised sufficient resources to make good on its enormous potential.
There’s a lot of excitement on the horizon, including our upcoming Funding Forward conference in Philadelphia and our partnership with foundations in the U.S. South to expand philanthropic resources in a long-neglected and under-funded region. We have also strengthened our efforts to reach “mainstream philanthropy” in order to ensure that LGBT organizations can access a wider range of foundation funders and that large foundations can better understand the broad scope of issues that confront our communities. It is particularly important that philanthropy recognize that for many LGBT folks who live multiple identities, we cannot be easily siloed into categories such as LGBT, African American/API/Latino/Native American, low-income, youth, immigrant, elderly or female. Philanthropy must evolve to truly understand and implement an intersectional practice that rejects the easy and incorrect response of “we don’t fund gay issues” and instead ensures that youth funding initiatives are fully inclusive of LGBT young people and racial justice funding programs are reaching LGBT people of color. To ignore this is to ignore our realities and to fail in efforts to reach all of those who are marginalized in society.
In addition to these important projects, Funders for LGBTQ Issues will also embark this year on a strategic planning process, one that will map a course for us over the next three to five years. This is another opportunity—and an essential one—for you to participate and share your point of view. As I said above, this is an organization with enormous potential which it can only realize if our members and other stakeholders help us shape a clear and strategic way forward. Where should our energies be directed? How can we add maximum value? How do we ensure that LGBT communities in the U.S. and globally are best served by philanthropy? What pitfalls should we avoid? How can we best serve our members? And how can we remain sustainable as an organization?
In the months ahead you will have an opportunity to provide feedback and share your ideas. Please do so. We encourage you to be part of the excitement as we forge the way forward for the sector. It’ll be fun. It’ll be rewarding. And the benefits will accrue to all of us and to our communities everywhere.