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​​Toward ​nimbl​e​ and creative ​funding for LGBTQ communities ​through a time of crisis 

A diverse group of LGBTQIA+ volunteers in New York City.

In late June, Funders for LGBTQ Issues released the 20th edition of its Resource Tracking Report: LGBTQ Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations, which tracks philanthropic funding ​from U.S.-based foundations​ for LGBTQ communities and causes in the United States annually. As you might imagine, ​LGBTQ ​grantmaking has grown significantly​ in​ ​the last ​two decades, from nearly $30 million in 2002 to $258.1 million in 2022. While we’re heartened by the overall growth in funding—both cumulatively and year-over-year—we know that the increase in total funding doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’s why:  

Adjusted for inflation, funding for LGBTQ communities and causes is down 

In 2022, foundations awarded $105.2 billion—a nominal 2.5% increase over 2021 but a decrease of 5% when adjusted for inflation. Additionally, total giving from all sources fell by 3.4%—or 10.5% when adjusted for inflation. 

The effect of these ​funding ​trends on our communities is two-fold. First, while funding for LGBTQ communities and issues in the U.S. reached $258.1 million in 2022, this nominal increase of $7.3 million over 2021—or just under 3%—actually represents a real-dollar decrease due to the impact of inflation. Second, funding for LGBTQ communities and issues declined as a share of overall ​grantmaking​. For every $100 awarded by U.S. foundations in 2022, only 25 cents specifically supported domestic LGBTQ communities and issues, compared with 28 cents in 2021. 

Funding for LGBTQ communities is needed now more than ever 

​​To develop the 2022 Resource Tracking Report, we identified 6,110 grants for domestic LGBTQ communities and issues awarded by 903 foundations. As seen in the graph “Domestic Annual LGBTQ Grant Dollars, 2011–2022,” in 2022, inflation wiped out the gains in nominal grant dollars. A real-dollar increase in funding in our dataset would have required additional funding above and beyond the 2021 inflation rate of 8%; a nominal increase of just under 3% does not come close. And are foundations ​considering​ the impact of inflation on their grant recipients? According to a 2023 analysis by Candid as part of the Foundation Giving Forecast Survey, just one in five respondents reported that inflation impacted 2022 grantmaking decisions and only 29% anticipated that inflation would impact grantmaking decisions in 2023.​ In other words, the majority of funders aren’t taking into account ​​the reality that​​ their grant dollars will not go as far as they used to​​, a trend we ​​will​​ continue to track in future iterations of our report.​​     ​ 

The impact of this decrease in LGBTQ funding is particularly concerning when we consider ​rising threats to​ LGBTQ communities broadly and trans communities specifically. In 2022, a total of 174 anti-trans bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country; 621 bills have already been introduced ​this year ​so far. ​Click here to enter text.​ 

As a philanthropic organizer, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has engaged in direct technical assistance with funders and has called on the ​philanthropic ​sector to move grant dollars ​nimbly and creatively through this moment of crisis​. We know that philanthropic funding for LGBTQ communities and causes has never fully met the level of need. And a real-dollar decrease in 2022 is particularly alarming as we anticipate further retrenchment among funders, given current economic trends and a sector-wide aversion to risk. It is our hope that grantmakers use the data presented in our 20th Resource Tracking Report to adjust their funding levels to account for this current moment of crisis alongside the ongoing and lasting impact of inflation on their grantees, which has demonstratively lessened the impact of LGBTQ philanthropy.  

Funder collaboratives can ​​strategically move ​​new grant dollars

There are promising trends in our data as well. We’d like to lift up a positive example of funder organizing we think should be a model for the field: intermediary funders working collaboratively to fill a funding gap. 

​​​​​A key finding from our analysis of 2022 data is that a total of $48.2 million was awarded specifically to transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary (TGNCNBi) communities and issues in 2022, a 34% increase from $36 million in 2021. A significant portion of this increase may be attributable to the work of the Trans Futures Funding Campaign (TFFC). TFFC was formed in the spring of 2022 when, spurred by legislation in Texas, a group of trans- and queer-led intermediary funders partnered with Funders for LGBTQ Issues to coordinate a national philanthropic response to unprecedented attacks on transgender youth.  

​​With the goal of directing​​ more​​ funding to trans organizations in states, regions, and localities being targeted, ​TFFC ​brought​ in new funding partners who may not have funded trans issues in the past. Throughout 2022, TFFC pushed for sizable, multi-year, unrestricted grants, as well as capacity-building technical assistance, to strengthen local grassroots trans organizations to respond to ongoing threats and build long-term sustainability for the trans movement, mobilizing $6 million in new grant dollars by the end of 2022​ toward its initial goal of $10 million​. 

TFFC is a tangible example of how the data presented in our Resource Tracking Reports has been used to increase strategic philanthropic support for key LGBTQ communities and causes in the U.S. As we continue our work to resource LGBTQ communities, foundations can use our data to fill in many of the gaps and opportunities that remain. LGBTQ communities sit at the intersections of every funding portfolio and issue area, it is our hope that all social justice funders recognize the role they have to play in resourcing our communities.  

Photo credit: LeoPatrizi via Getty Images


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