A Trust Supporting LGBT Communities in Need

The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust was established in 1989 to carry on the giving legacy of May and Stanley Smith, who made their fortune primarily in the world of iron ore mining in Malaysia. The mission of the trust is to support “organizations that offer opportunities to children and youth; adults and families; elders; and people with disabilities that enrich the quality of life, promote self-sufficiency, and assist individuals in achieving their highest potential."

The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust distributes grants to four different groups in need: Foster Youth, Elders, Veterans and People with Disabilities. LGBT populations of course are part of all four of these: the trust has recently given to LGBT programs in three of the four areas (everything but People with Disabilities).

The trust provides a rigorous assessment of the needs of these populations, and of its goals in each area, as well as discussions of what a successful program would therefore look like. Overall, the May and Stanley Charitable Trust seeks to support programs that provide “dignity, agency, and self-sufficiency”—a good blueprint for how to present your LGBT program. Be sure to read these rubrics comprehensively before attacking the trust’s application, in order to understand how your LGBT program will best fit.

And attack the application you must, because while it begins with an LOI open to all, it is a rigorous one, requiring specific outcomes past and future, as well as comprehensive financial reporting. The trust explicitly states that start-ups, emerging organizations and new programs are not eligible for its support, and this makes perfect sense once you delve into the LOI—there is no way a new organization or program could discuss financials and recent outcomes with the rigor this funder requires. If you have been around long enough, still be aware that the trust ideally looks for organizations with yearly operating budgets of at least $250,000 and less than 70% of costs supported by government funding. (The application provides a thoughtful section in which to discuss your organization’s relationship with government funding, and why private support is important to your program/organization.)

The good news if you check these boxes: the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust makes healthy-sized grants, typically ranging from $30,000–$100,000 per year, and will give multi-year gifts for both program and general operating costs.

The other specificity is geography. The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust explicitly directs its giving to the Western U.S., though its definition of the West is broad, defining it as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. (For the record, the trust also gives to British Columbia, Canada.) While the executed work must be done in these states, the trust’s giving history shows that the organization itself can potentially be based elsewhere, with work that is then targeted in the trust’s focused states.

Recently granted specific LGBT programs working with foster youth include Children's Rights (New York, NY) "to ensure transgender youth have safe and supportive out-of-home care" with $75,000.

Recent LGBT program grantees working with the elderly population include Openhouse (San Francisco, CA) "to support LGBT elders to stay healthy, engaged, independent, and secure in their own homes" with $50,000.

In the trust's Veterans sector, recent LGTB grantees include the Los Angeles LGBT Center (Los Angeles, CA) "to case mangement, social, wellness, and navigation support to veterans age 50+ seeking VA benefits."

The May and Stanley Smith’s Charitable Trust’s LOI is rolling; if you’re ready for its rigor, you can apply at any time.

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