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REPORT: Over 6 Percent of Global Philanthropy Directed at LGBT Issues

Wednesday Sep 4, 2013

In 2010, $72.6 in global philanthropy reached the doorsteps of LGBT people, figuratively speaking. That's out of a total $1.2 billion of worldwide philanthropy, as reported by a new study from the Foundation Center.

The Foundation Center was established in 1956 and claims to "maintain the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants." It partnered with The International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) - a global network of donors and grant makers - for the June study, "the first research report of its kind."

So over $70 million went to the LGBT population, but how does that break down? Well, looking at the LGBT-focused segment of the report yields some interesting data, like the fact that the top contributor in 2010 is the Arcus Foundation, which, on top of dedicating itself to LGBT issues, its second and equal priority is "to conserve and protect the great apes." Arcus gave $14.6 million. Second place goes to the Gill Foundation, which came out at an even $10 million. Sixth place goes to the Ford Foundation, which in late July hired openly gay Darren Walker as its new president - it gave $4 million.

"The landscape of human rights funding is exceedingly complex, but initiatives like this bring into sharp relief just how vibrant and diverse the field is," said Michael Hirschhorn, executive director of IHRFG, in a statement. "The lasting value of this research - the thing that will take us beyond 'painting landscapes' to propelling greater engagement - comes when grant makers are moved to contribute data, provide feedback, share findings with peers, and use this information in support of their work."

According to the Foundation Center, information like this can help existing contributors and grant makers to better levy their donations, and might inspire new entrants into the philanthropy field.

"Some may be surprised to learn that many foundations who do not call themselves human rights funders are nevertheless engaged in supporting human rights work," said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center, in a statement. "Not only does this finding help us understand the true scope of the human rights funding community, it also opens up new possibilities for foundations that want to leverage their investment through collaboration with others."

The six percent piece of the pie that went to the LGBT population broke up in the following specific areas:

  • Individual Integrity, Liberty, and Security, 61%
  • Social and Cultural Rights, 19%
  • Human Rights, 10%
  • Other Rights, 10%

    The Top 10 LGBT Funders:

    1. Arcus Foundation, $14.6 million
    2. Gill Foundation, $10 million
    3. Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, $6.1 million
    4. Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, $5.9 million
    5. Open Society Foundations, $4.2 million
    6. Ford Foundation, $4 million
    7. Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, $3.6 million
    8. Proteus Fund, $3.4 million
    9. Tides Foundation, $2.1 million
    10. American Jewish World Service-Donor Advised Fund, $1.9 million

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