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    Philanthropy Has Critical Roles to Play at This Moment

    By Roger Doughty–

    July 2020 finds our nation, the world, the Bay Area, and our LGBTQ community confronting some of the greatest challenges in living memory: the COVID-19 pandemic; a national reckoning on systemic racism, Black lives, and white supremacy; and a profound economic downturn that has put tens of millions—in the U.S. alone—at grave risk. We know from recent data and the LGBTQ movement’s own history that these are turning the lives of tens of thousands of LGBTQ people upside down right here in the Bay Area.

    At Horizons Foundation, we believe that philanthropy has critical roles to play at this moment, both in terms of individual giving and in terms of grantmaking by foundations. Nothing can rival the sheer size of government programs, yet philanthropy can fill critical holes that public funding cannot. Sometimes people talk about saving for “a rainy day,” or not giving as much as they might so that they can respond in times of greatest need.

    That rainy day is here. It is now and it is all around us.

    Horizons hopes that those of us fortunate enough to be in a position to give are doing all we can to maximize our contributions. It’s also important to include in our personal giving where the needs are most acute—especially in communities grossly disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including communities of color and transgender people. Finally, we should remember that LGBTQ nonprofits depend on us, since LGBTQ people make up the great majority of those organizations’ donors—and to support them with the pride that comes from strengthening our own community.

    Foundations—sometimes called “organized philanthropy”—have vital roles to play as well. Many are increasing their grantmaking in the face of these multiple crises (though some are regrettably cutting back). We are also seeing more and more foundations adopting practices that we have used at Horizons for years, such as making more grants general operating funds, tying fewer strings to grants, easing applications and reporting requirements—all to ensure that the grantee nonprofits can focus on their work in the community and not on jumping through hoops.

    Horizons itself has increased its grantmaking to our community dramatically, including through the Emergency LGBTQ COVID-19 Fund we announced in March. To date, the fund has made $650,000 in grants, with an additional $250,000 to be made next month. All of these grants have been in the form of general operating funds and have supported more than 60 LGBTQ organizations in every county of the Bay Area.

    What is especially exciting about Horizons’ COVID Fund is that the funds raised for the grants (Horizons has taken zero fee) have come from hundreds of individual donors, as well as foundation and corporate partners. The Fund is still open for contributions, with 100% of donations going to our community (just go to https://www.horizonsfoundation.org/covid19/ ).  

    Our community has weathered countless crises. Today’s are historic and daunting, and are an opportunity for us to show up for one another, again and again and again, until every one of us makes it—together—to the other side.

    Roger Doughty is the Executive Director and President of Horizons Foundation: https://www.horizonsfoundation.org/

    Published on July 16, 2020