The Rainbow World Fund: Advancing LGBT Acceptance One Good Deed at a Time

LGBT philanthropy isn't just about funding LGBT issues. Since 2000, The Rainbow World Fund and its all-volunteer staff has advanced the cause of LGBT acceptance and civil rights by gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to provide humanitarian relief throughout the world. The fund, based in San Francisco, takes the approach that by being a positive force in communities that need humanitarian aid, LGBT people can build bridges and build acceptance.

One of the organization's goals is to change the way people all over the world view the LGBT community, one wastewater system and fed child at a time, while also simply providing an outlet for the LGBT community to be the humanitarians so many want to be. The Fund wants to challenge stereotypes about LGBT individuals and the community as a whole. From their website: "The visibility that RWF provides allows people to see that LGBT people are engaged and positively contributing to the world."

Operating on monetary and in-kind donations, RWF provides humanitarian aid to combat global concerns like hunger, unsafe water, land mines, and AIDS. Rather than duplicate efforts, RWF partners with established relief agencies throughout the world to provide volunteers and funding. RWF has helped to improve safe water access in Honduras and Guatemala, worked to clear landmines in Cambodia, and funded HIV prevention in South Africa.

RWF is a small organization, reporting only $403,000 in donations and $371,000 in aid in 2011 (the last year for which there is an annual report), but it fills a valuable niche in the LGBT philanthropy arena.

So much of LGBT acceptance comes from increased visibility. People who know gays, or who have friends or family members who are gay, are much likelier to oppose LGBT discrimination and to open their hearts to LGBT people. So that's what Rainbow World Fund is premised on. They want to help people in need and in the process show that LGBT people are caring, compassionate people who can be a tremendous benefit to any community.