The holiday season has always been my favorite time of year. Unlike birthdays — which I also really enjoy celebrating — the holidays aren’t centered on any one person. Instead, the holiday season is a time for generously spreading joy and expressing love and affection to those who mean the most to us. This includes both those who we know intimately and those who we may never know, but who are nonetheless part of our human community. It’s a season for simple acts of kindness and meaningful gifts.
So who is on your giving list this year? Mom, dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend … favorite LGBT nonprofit?
Do you know when the last time you gave to an LGBT nonprofit was? If you can’t remember, maybe this holiday season is the perfect time to start a new tradition and make a holiday donation.
While 2015 has seen increased progress for LGBT people in the United States, our community still needs our love and attention this holiday season. Nationwide marriage equality was inarguably important to achieve, but there are many other important issues facing LGBT communities that remain inadequately addressed and undersupported.
We shouldn’t accept a world in which LGBT youth make up 5 to 7 percent of the youth population, but account for more than 40 percent of homeless youth. We shouldn’t settle for a society wherein gay and bisexual men account for two percent of the population but make up two-thirds of new HIV infections. We still have work to do when less than 2 percent of Americans have attempted suicide, but discrimination and violence result in more than 40 percent of transgender people having made an effort to end their own lives. Progress is rarely unilinear, but together we can move forward.
Yet as the Movement Advancement Project’s 2015 National LGBT Movement Report indicates, for the first time since the great recession of 2007 and 2008, leading LGBT nonprofits saw a decrease in revenue while other leading nonprofits saw their revenue continue to increase. This is particularly alarming since the expenditures for the 10 largest anti-LGBT organizations are greater than twice the expenses of the top 10 LGBT groups.
How can we end LGBT youth homelessness or stop new HIV infections in our community without strong organizations working at the intersections where government and the private sector can’t or won’t? How can we address the extreme rates of poverty in the LGBT community or the violence we continue to face at home and abroad if our organizations don’t receive the adequate resources they need? Laws alone won’t improve our lives.
It is estimated that at most, only three out of every 100 LGBT adults in the United States gives to an LGBT nonprofit. Looking at what we’ve achieved so far with limited resources, imagine what could we achieve if even 10 or 20 percent of us gave back to our community?
There are endless groups deserving of your support out there and they accept gifts of all sizes. Whether you care about LGBT youth or LGBT seniors, improving LGBT health or ending LGBT poverty, addressing homophobia or securing safe schools for LGBT students, there is undoubtedly one or more groups who could benefit greatly from your support.
If you’re interested in investing in a smaller local LGBT nonprofit, beyond Googling for groups, consider contacting your local community foundation to see what reliable organizations they award grants to. If they don’t support any smaller grassroots LGBT groups, you might want to push them to explain why they don’t. We are, after all, an important part of any local ecology, equally deserving of their support. A small amount of advocacy can go a long way.
If you’re lucky enough to have an LGBT-focused public foundation in your area, consider contacting it for additional organizations you might want to donate to.
From my family to yours, I hope you have a joyous holiday season. And, I hope you consider supporting our larger LGBT family with a gift that is meaningful to you. Happy holidays!
LYLE MATTHEW KAN is the director of research and communications at Funders for LGBTQ Issues.