There’s no escaping the alarming events and sometimes stupefying pronouncements tumbling from the nation’s capital. Even if we turned off every device, ignored every newspaper, and closed our eyes and ears, it’d be almost impossible not to feel the onslaught.
At this point, few in our community likely harbor hope that this administration’s knives won’t come out for LGBTQ people—especially after last week’s announcement about withdrawing protection from transgender students.
There is plenty to worry about: whether bedrock programs like Medicare and Social Security will be gravely weakened; how LGBTQ immigrants, refugees, and asylees will survive (too often literally the case); how trans and queer youth will cope with more hostile atmospheres; and whether our basic equality will be circumscribed in dozens of states.
Concerns about the Supreme Court continue to grow as well.
Leadership, Courage and Money
There’s a lot more to do than just worry. The big question on nearly everyone’s mind, of course, is what do we do? Raising our voices, marching, and volunteering are all critical. Thousands of us have been—and are—doing just those things. And many, many more protests and resistance of all kinds lie ahead.
We’re also going to need something else. It’s not sexy, but it’s indispensable: money. Lots of money. And that need will grow only more acute when they start slashing away at the social safety nets that even now barely keep many among us alive and safe.
Thank goodness we’ve seen an outpouring of gifts to vitally important national front-line organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. This has been wonderfully heartening—they’re going to need every last penny. Yet what we’re facing goes far beyond marquee organizations and the headline national issues of civil liberties and basic rights.
Almost every part of our community is vulnerable: elders, youth, immigrants, people with HIV, women, transgender people, as well as nearly every person who relies on health and social services of any kind. Where do they turn for support and healthcare and advocacy?
They’ll go to our nonprofit organizations. But few of our organizations have the capacity to meet the surge in demand that’s overwhelmingly likely—and for immigrants, transgender people, and others, the surge has already started, ferociously. And that’s where the money part comes in.
As the LGBTQ community’s foundation, Horizons Foundation has worked to grow the financial resources available to LGBTQ nonprofit groups for 37 years. That part of our mission is, I believe, more important than ever, simply because absent more resources, our community will not—it cannot—meet the needs for advocacy and services.
The fact is, most LGBTQ nonprofits can’t afford to invest in their fundraising operations, especially when demand goes up, as all nonprofits want to use every dime to meet people’s needs. But the problem comes when all too often those organizations get caught in what’s been called “the nonprofit starvation cycle”: they can’t invest in their fundraising operations, which weakens their fundraising and ultimately leaves them with fewer resources and reduced impact.
One way to help nonprofits is to offer them a platform for cost-free fundraising. This year, Horizons will once again be home to Give OUT Day, set for April 20, 2017. The once-a-year event gives LGBTQ organizations a readymade electronic platform for raising funds for their work—nearly $600,000 in 2016 alone. Our goal this year: $1 million raised, and most by smaller and mid-sized nonprofits. (You can learn more at www.giveoutday.org)
Another way to get more resources to organizations is to help them sharpen their fundraising messages in this unprecedented time. How can they reach the most prospective donors and inspire them to give? To help nonprofits of all sizes do this effectively and efficiently, Horizons is supporting cutting-edge research into what’s most likely to motivate people to give—especially in these suddenly and drastically altered circumstances. The findings will be shared throughout Bay Area organizations and across the country.
Getting Our Community’s Dollars Where They’re Needed Most
Times like these also mean that it’ll be especially important to ensure that foundations and donors alike know where their dollars can meet the greatest needs. There’ll never be enough, so where can funds make the most difference?
To help answer this critical question, Horizons is carrying out the most comprehensive assessment of the Bay Area LGBTQ community’s needs in more than 20 years. When results are released next summer, the insights will help not just the foundation, but also community nonprofits and donors alike to judge where to put their support.
Horizons also works directly with hundreds of individual donors every year to help them identify where their giving can have the most impact—and further donors’ own deepest commitments.
None of these things, of course, is in itself adequate to the challenge staring at all of us. They will help—and that’s certainly Horizons’ goal—but the only real answers lie with LGBTQ people ourselves. Organizations are crucial. Campaigns and rallies and marches are crucial. But the core of resistance to a hostile administration and all the unlovely forces behind it lies, as it always does, with individuals taking their own stands, singly and together.
There’s no question—none whatever—that we have the capability to do so. We’ve done it so many times before. We’ve done it in the face of discrimination, of naked bigotry, of disease, and of violence. Allies that stand by our sides will be always, always welcome. But in the end it will be, as it always is, up to us.
You can find out more about Horizons Foundation and our programs at www.horizonsfoundation.org
If you’d like information about increasing the impact of your own giving, please contact our Vice President of Development, Deb Stallings, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Doughty is president of Horizons Foundation, the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community foundation.