• Lipton Strategies

Philanthropy Insights: LGBTQ+ Philanthropy Trends and Creating an Inclusive Donor Experience

Updated: Jun 28



The Global Resource Report documented comprehensive data through six calendar years of grantmaking, allowing for a deeper analysis of LGBTQ+ funding trend lines over time. The report documents over 19,764 grants awarded by 800 foundations, NGO intermediary funders, corporations, and 15 donor government and multilateral agencies over the two-year period of 2017-2018.


In 2017 and 2018, global philanthropic funding for LGBTQ+ issues totaled more than $560 million – an increase of $57 million, or 11%, since the 2015–2016 reporting period.


The report shows that 58% of the 2017–2018 funding went to the Global North (Canada and the United States; and Western Europe); 31% went to the Global South and East (Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; the Middle East and North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa). In comparison to the 2015–2016 reporting period, LGBTQI funding increased in every sub-region across the Global North and South except for Western Europe.


The top 10 funders of LGBTQ+ issues in the Global North awarded over $129 million, or 37 percent of the total. Of the funders in the top ten, nine were located in the United States, the top 10 funders are illustrated below.



For Pride Month our team joined with Givebutter to share our insights on the importance of engaging LGBTQ+ donors and creating a more inclusive donor experience. Check out our top five tips or click here to read the full guest blog post:


#1 Connect with the community you are trying to engage

Take the time to talk and meet with leaders, staff, volunteers, and donors from the LGBTQ+ community. Rather than make assumptions based on identity proxies, these individuals will help you understand what they care about, their passions, and how your organization intersects with their lives. Not only will it help strengthen your organization, but you will have the opportunity to connect with new leaders for your organization, learn their perspectives, and hear their stories to understand why equality is so important.


#2: Use inclusive communication strategies and language

Instead of using traditional gendered labels, consider using gender-neutral language. For example, substitute ‘Chairman’ or ‘Chairwoman’ for ‘Chair’ or ‘Chairperson.’ To ensure gender-neutral language is used both with the organization and with donors, it is important to provide regular updates and check-ins with staff and volunteers to encourage inclusive language and practices become part of the organization’s culture.


Another key place to include gender-neutral language is on external communications and forms. Make edits to your donation forms, surveys, newsletters, and direct mail to use neutral language that allows everyone to be included. Instead of using Mr. or Mrs., consider using an individual’s first name or provide them the opportunity to select their own pronouns.


#3: Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion internally

You may also want to survey your employees about how they perceive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at your organization and whether they think the organization is ready to focus on diverse supporters. The Philanthropic Closet: LGBTQ People in Philanthropy highlights gay, lesbian, and bisexual people make up 16.2% of the staff and board at participating foundations. Transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people account for 2% of the staff and board at participating foundations.


Ensure your organization’s top leaders — not just its lower ranks — reflect the diverse community of people you want to reach. They need a seat at the table, so their ideas are heard, and your organization must be willing to change traditional approaches that may not be inclusive.


#4: Make a long-term commitment to this work

Just as the LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for and commit to building a more inclusive society, your organization must do the same. Having their best interest isn’t a once-a-year effort during Pride Month; it requires work 356 days a year. Make sure your leadership are kept apprised of important happenings within the LGBTQ+ community and consider subscribing to updates from LGBTQ+ news sources and organizations to hear directly from the voice of the community.


As the LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for full equality, consider what actions your organization can take both locally and nationally to effectively demonstrate your support and stand in solidarity with the community. Some examples include volunteer service days with local LGBTQ+ organizations, evaluating internal HR practices, and supporting legislation like the Equality Act.


If your organization needs additional help establishing a long-term commitment, consider hiring outside experts to support your organization in a continuous and authentic way.


#5: Build trust

When meeting with prospective donors, show you understand and are genuinely interested in the LGBTQ+ community and culture. Make sure to ask thoughtful and specific questions to demonstrate that you care, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or say there is something you don't know.


Ensuring your acknowledgment and recognition processes are appropriate and display cultural sensitivity will show your donors that you respect them. Honesty and authenticity are the best way to develop trust!


These are just a few tips to help your organization build a more inclusive donor experience. There continue to be great milestones, but the work is not finished. The LGBTQ+ community and allies will continue to fight and demonstrate resilience in pursuit of full equality.


Lipton Strategies is not only a proud LGBTQ+ owned business, but our team works every day with organizations on the front line creating positive change for all members of the LGBTQ+ community! If your organization needs help developing an LGBTQ+ inclusive strategy, connect with our team for a free consultation at hello@liptonstrategies.com.


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