The LGBT Fund

Friday, April 6, 2018 - 19:15

FUNDING – undoubtedly the single largest issue faced by our sector since the first LGBT organisations were formed.

In speaking to our Members, we hear time and time again the struggles that many face year on year just to survive, let alone grow to the size they think that they need to be to best serve their communities. 

Fundraising is a skill. An often time-consuming skill. And as a sector with a significantly high proportion of smaller organisations (81% of Consortium Members have an income under £50,000) we know that only a handful of organisations can afford to employ a dedicated Fundraiser. So, fundraising often falls on the organisations leader or front-line staff and volunteers. Even of those in our sector with the luxury of fundraising staff, most report it a struggle to secure sustainable funding for their work.

In speaking to our Members and to funders directly we know that only a select number of Trusts & Foundations proactively invest in LGBT projects and organisations. We need to help more funders understand the needs of our sector and the communities we work with.

In addition to this, with government austerity taking its’ toll on the wider voluntary sector, we have anecdotal evidence that the LGBT sector has been disproportionately impacted by cuts to statutory budgets. In a recent survey we found that 32% of our Members had seen a reduction in income, and of those 50% reported that they had lost staff as a result.

In 2016 the LGBT sector lost two long-serving national organisations due to funding cuts – PACE Mental Health & Broken Rainbow. This followed closures of smaller local and regional organisations such as Gay Men’s Health in Scotland & Gay Advice Darlington & Durham. LGBT Consortium have also worked with several Members in recent years who have had to carry out emergency fundraising, redundancies or restructures to ensure survival.

Clearly something must change before we lose more vital services from our sector.

After the loss of PACE & Broken Rainbow, sector-wide discussions explored what can be done to prevent future LGBT service losses, and more importantly to strategically look at sustainable funding for our sector. 

At a meeting of LGBT sector CEOs we explored the potential of setting up a new LGBT Fund. This was a discussion that had been ongoing for some years, but it felt like it was needed now more than ever. As the sector infrastructure body it was agreed that LGBT Consortium would be the right organisation to look into this concept and lead this work on behalf of the sector, so we were tasked by our Members to do so.

An LGBT Funding Taskforce was set up in 2017 comprising of LGBT sector leaders, business leaders and funders. After several exciting discussions about the potential for an LGBT Fund and how it may be developed The Taskforce quickly realised that this ambitious project needed dedicated resources to scope out possibilities, get it off the ground and ensure its’ success continues.

With the kind support of Big Lottery Fund & Esmée Fairbairn Foundation we have been able to appoint Matt Halliday to the new 12 month role of Sustainable Funding Development Manager. Matt has a wealth of LGBT sector experience having previously worked for GMFA and been CEO of London Friend.

This is an ambitious project! And with only an initial 12 months funding in place we know that we must think big.

During this first stage of the project we want to:

  • Better understand the state of the LGBT sector
  • Better understand LGBT Sector fundraising and funding, identifying examples of best practice and missed opportunities
  • Better understand why LGBT people do and do not give to LGBT organisations.
  • Learn from other sectors in the UK and LGBT Funds & Community Foundations across the globe
  • Obtain support and sector buy-in for collaborative fundraising and the creation of a new LGBT Fund

We want to ensure we only explore opportunities to bring new funding into the LGBT sector and that an increasing amount of funding coming into the sector is reaching those projects and services that may struggle to secure funding. We will also work to explore how we not only bring in additional funding into our sector but how we supplement that with non-monetary value to help our sector become more sustainable.

The initial areas we believe a new LGBT Fund has opportunities for us to explore include:

  • New Technologies. How we can use technology and social media to better link donors with LGBT projects and organisations
  • LGBT Funders Forum. How a new LGBT Fund can work to bring together a range of funders so they can better understand the needs of our sector and communities
  • Shared Fundraising Resources & Initiatives. What examples of success exist of collaborative fundraising in our sector and where the opportunities are
  • Up-Skilling the Sector. How a new LGBT Fund could work with the LGBT sector to increase the number and quality of funding applications being submitted.

In the coming weeks and months Matt would like to meet with as many Members as possible to get input and buy-in into this project. He may well be in touch, but if you’d like to get in contact please e-mail him on: matthew.halliday@lgbtconsortium.org.uk or call on 020 7064 6504


 

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