While many predict that funding for LGBT issues will fall in the wake of the big victory on marriage equality, there is still likely to be a lot more money out there for nonprofits in this space than was the case a decade ago. Also, funding for work in some areas may well grow, such as trans issues and LGBT groups of color. New funds are also going for global efforts to promote LGBT rights.
While LGBT philanthropy remains dominated by a few big players, like the Arcus and Gill Foundations, the breadth and nature of donors involved in this area is expanding. Any number of major corporations give money to LGBT issues through their foundations. More individual donors and family foundations are also entering this space. Huge amounts of anonymous money have also gone to LGBT issues, which maybe isn't surprising.
The Arcus Foundation, now in its second decade of operation, specializes in defending LGBT rights and protecting the world's great apes. Awarding millions of dollars annually in domestic and international LGBT-related grants, Arcus is a huge player in this field. Arcus's LGBT funding emphasizes outreach to youth, people of color, and faith communities.
Astraea is both well-funded and quite accessible to initial grantseekers, even those of modest name recognition. Astraea's identity and funding strategy are based on advocacy for lesbians, transgender individuals, and the arts.
Founded in 1997 by tech entrepreneur Bruce Bastian, the Bastian Foundation's areas of focus include the performing arts, LGBT rights, and HIV/AIDS advocacy. The foundation is not currently accepting unsolicited grant requests; grantseekers must first contact Executive Director Michael Marriott with ideas or proposals. Projects based in the U.S. Intermountain West region (Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana) are prioritized.
The David Bohnett Foundation's LGBT funding focuses primarily on LGBT equality and access to technology. Grants are also awarded in several additional funding areas that include the arts (particularly in the Los Angeles area), gun violence, animal language, and municipal leadership.
The New-York-based Calamus Foundation offers general operation and program-specific grants for charitable organizations working to provide "care and support" for individuals with HIV as well as those working on the LGBT community's identity and rights. In a recent year the Foundation awarded a total of over $2 million in grants. Calamus does not accept unsolicited grant proposals and all inquiries must be made through an "organization introduction" via the foundation's web site.
The Ford Foundation is one of the stalwart funders of progressive causes and issues of social justice. Owing to a recent restructuring, the foundation will continue to support LGBT issues internationally, but has ended its support for U.S.-based LGBT work.
The Denver-based Gill Foundation, started by tech entrepreneur Tim Gill, has been in operation for over two decades. A major player in the world of LGBT funding, the foundation has awarded millions of dollars annually in grants for "organizations working on policy and advocacy efforts to achieve equality in the United States for all people, including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression" both nationally and in Gill's home state of Colorado.
The Haas Fund is a pioneer in marriage equality and awards large-scale grants for a range of LGBT-related work. However, grant proposals are by invitation only.
Horizons, led by Executive Director Roger Doughty, is more accessible than many LGBT funders. Most of its funding comes in the way of small grants to organizations working at the grassroots level.
With total assets exceeding $2 billion and more than $136 million in annual grants, the NYCT is a powerhouse funder for causes of social, economic, and environmental justice. LGBT grants at the NYCT are generally made through its Children, Youth & Families and Education, Arts & Justice programs. NYCT has been particularly strong in supporting organizations that provide legal assistance, aid individuals with HIV/AIDS, and provide a number of services to elderly, minority, and economically disadvantaged LGBTs.
The New York-based Open Society Foundations focus on a wide range of domestic and international human rights and social justice issues, with a particular focus on developing countries. The LGBT program at Open Society is part of its Human Rights Initiative.
Overbrook's work is split into two categories: human rights, which includes LGBT issues, and the environment. While much of the LGBT grantmaking at Overbrook has often been focused on marriage equality, in recent years the foundation has also supported additional areas affecting LGBTs both domestically and internationally. A small number of repeat grantees have been generally awarded funds each year, and unsolicited calls or proposals are explicitly discouraged.
The Civil Marriage Collaborative is Proteus's major contribution to LGBT funding. This program has usually provided heavy funding to a small number of grantees each year, and proposals are by invitation only.