Funding for LGBTQ causes has never been stronger. A recent report from Funders of LGBT Issues revealed that foundations and corporations donated more than $129 million to LGBTQ causes in 2013, a 250 percent increase in foundation funding over the last decade. Still, the report notes that "despite impressive gains, funding for LGBTQ issues is still a tiny fraction of all foundation funding -- approximately 0.24 percent of the $54.7 billion total that the Foundation Center estimates was awarded by foundations in 2013." We can do more.
Give OUT Day is a national initiative, now in its third year, that mobilizes thousands of individual donors across the country during a 24-hour period each May (May 21 this year) to give in support of LGBT nonprofits. EqualityCard is a credit card start-up, launched in February of 2014, that allows business and consumer cardholders to make tax-deductible donations equal to 1 percent of their purchases to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender nonprofit of their choice.
In our own unique ways we're trying to do our part to help make up the funding gaps that remain in the LGBTQ movement. We're passionate about raising money for LGBTQ organizations. That's why we decided to join forces through a unique partnership. EqualityCard is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the new Give OUT Day Headstart Campaign. Our joint goal: maximize financial gains for the LGBTQ movement.
The campaign will allow LGBT nonprofits to generate proceeds from events, fundraising drives, and giving platforms like the one EqualityCard offers, throughout the year, enabling non-profits to have donations already committed at the "starting line" on Give OUT Day each year. That "head start" will help LGBT nonprofits increase their overall tally on the Give OUT Day leaderboard that participants have grown so accustomed to over the last two years.
EqualityCard will promote Give OUT Day to its cardholders and encourage them to participate in the day-long crowdfunding event using their EqualityCards. Give OUT Day will in turn ask those who take part in its day of giving to consider applying for an EqualityCard Visa so they can generate donations in the amount of 1 percent of their purchases to distribute through the Give OUT Day platform.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the development of these giving platforms has been hearing all of the stories from our donors about their enthusiasm for supporting the LGBT non-profit organizations that mean the most to them. While everyone within the LGBT and ally communities is driven to support the movement toward equality in all of its forms, it is very energizing to learn about the specific passion that individuals have for organizations that may have positively affected their lives, or perhaps the lives of their friends and loved ones.
We want to play whatever part that we can in the effort to convince LGBT individuals that even small donations can make a big difference in the lives of others. All too often, people think that if they do not have the financial means to make really large donations to their favorite nonprofit organizations each year, somehow any smaller contributions that fit within their budget would not be meaningful or appreciated.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Small donations, like the ones generated through the use of the EqualityCard Visa, or provided through the Give OUT Day initiative each year, are increasingly important to the missions of the dynamic LGBT nonprofits that operate in communities all across the country.
Last year Give OUT day raised over $1 million from 12,000 donors and provided donations to 500+ LGBT organizations. Since its launch last year, EqualityCard has added 2,000 new cardholders and more than 80 LGBT nonprofit affiliates, raising nearly $40,000 for the LGBT movement. We both have goals to greatly increase our impact in 2015.
The momentum in LGBTQ philanthropy is robust and we are honored to do our part in bolstering that giving so that we can help advance equality at the grassroots level and nationally. We look forward to engaging with the community and inspiring more donations in the buildup to this year's Give OUT Day, and throughout the year.
A wiser person than I once said, "If you are not giving to your community, then you are taking from it." Our goal is to convince as many people as possible to experience the great joy of being a contributor to the LGBT movement. There is something about the act of giving that brings out the best in people, and we hope that our initiatives and our partnership can play a small role in helping people experience that.
JASON FRANKLIN (left) serves as executive director of Bolder Giving, working to encourage donors to "Give More, Risk More, Inspire More." NICK LEPETSOS (right) is the founder and CEO of Philanthropy Ventures, LLC, the company behind the EqualityCard(r) family of products. Learn more about Give OUT Day here, and EqualityCard here.