Feeling the Pride: The Boston Foundation Is Giving More Than Ever Before for LGBTQ Issues

Keith J Finks/shutterstock

Keith J Finks/shutterstock

In recent years, we’ve seen an uptick in local funding for LGBTQ causes, most notably from community foundations, which have been slowly, but steadily, ramping up their giving in this space and pooling together growing donations from interested donors.

For example, the Boston Foundation has overseen and administered an Equality Fund since 2012 with two main goals: to make grants to nonprofits serving the LGBTQ community and to build a permanent endowment to ensure that grants will keep flowing in the future. To kick off Pride Month, this community funder recently awarded $160,300 in grants to support LGBTQ work in the Greater Boston area.

What’s significant about this latest round of awards is that it’s the largest grantmaking commitment to date for the first endowed LGBTQ fund in the region. Last June, the grantmaking total was $113,000, which was split among 15 organizations. This year, 26 LGBTQ-focused organizations are receiving the Boston Foundation’s support, largely because more donor commitments have been rolling in to support such groups.

This is hopeful news, not only for the new grantees but also for other LGBTQ organizations in Boston. The foundation received a record number of grant applications for its Equity Fund this year, signaling that the local LGBTQ needs here are as great as ever, or perhaps even more so given the adverse national political climate.

An Equality Fund Advisory Committee and staff members of the Boston Foundation chose this year’s grantees based upon the results of the Fenway Institute and Boston Indicators’ Equality and Equity: Advancing the LGBT Community in Massachusetts report that came out in June 2018. The major findings of this report revealed vast inequities still exist for LGBTQ individuals, especially for LGBTQ elders and trans youth living in Boston.

Therefore, many of the new Equality Fund grants went to youth and elder-focused nonprofits working in the LGBTQ community. Most of these grants are between $4,000 and $15,000 each, with top recipients including OUT MetroWest, Fenway Community Health Center, Health Law Advocates, and the Political Asylum Immigration Representation Project.

Yet another important aspect of the Boston Foundation’s LGBTQ grantmaking is its small grants. These are great opportunities for smaller, newer, and lesser-known groups to get a foot in the door with this $1.3 billion grantmaker. Small grants are also ideal for LGBTQ organizations trying out new pilot projects or taking a new approach for the first time.

This year, the Equality Fund’s advisory board recommended approximately $12,000 in small grants to 12 organizations, including Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Trans Club of New England, and Camp Lightbulb.

In total, the Boston Foundation has awarded over $7 million in gifts and commitments through donor contributions to the Equality Fund. This is just one of over 1,000 separate charitable funds administered by the funder. The Equality Fund accepts new grant applications via the foundation’s online system.

Related: A Quick look at the Boston Foundation’s LGBTQ Grantmaking (2017)