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Philanthropists Called on to Champion the LGBTQI Community

16 March 2018 at 4:49 pm
Luke Michael
Australian philanthropists have been called on to “step up” and champion the LGBTQI community, after a new report found just 0.8 per cent of grant-making charities in Australia funded LGBTQI people in 2016.

Luke Michael | 16 March 2018 at 4:49 pm


Philanthropists Called on to Champion the LGBTQI Community
16 March 2018 at 4:49 pm

Australian philanthropists have been called on to “step up” and champion the LGBTQI community, after a new report found just 0.8 per cent of grant-making charities in Australia funded LGBTQI people in 2016.                                                                

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission released their 2016 grant-making charities report on Wednesday, in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact and the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney.

The report assessed the activities of 10,398 Australian grant-making charities in the 2016 reporting period, and found that these organisations provided $4 billion in grants and donations over the year.

However just 0.8 per cent of this funding went towards the LGBTQI community, along with only 0.4 per cent of money from structured philanthropy.

This has led Georgia Mathews, the executive director of LGBTQI giving circle The Channel, to call for Australian philanthropists to give greater focus to the LGBTQI community.

Mathews told Pro Bono News that it was disappointing but not surprising to see the latest figures.

When it comes to the philanthropic and grant-making organisations and what they give to by focus area, LGBTQI populations come second last out of all the core areas that grant-making organisations report on. We just came in front of ex-offenders and just below veterans,” Mathews said.

“But we make up 10 per cent of the population. So it was an interesting statistic to find and it was actually probably what we at The Channel expected to find. We have been made aware of similar statistics in the US, which notes I think that 26 cents in every 100 philanthropic dollars goes to LGBTQI community projects.

“And while we don’t have the dollars flow in this dataset I think it confirms for us that the situation is probably quite similar in Australia.”

Mathews said while the “data doesn’t tell the whole story”, there were a number of reasons the LGBTQI community were underrepresented in philanthropic and grant funding.

“I’m sure that there are LGBTQI beneficiaries that get accounted for in some culturally and linguistically diverse focused projects or disability projects or Indigenous projects, and so perhaps there are more organisations funding this than what the data shows,” she said.

“But I think that it’s pretty safe to say that not as many are funded as there should be and I think there’s a lot of reasons for this, but I would say maybe the top three are firstly a lack of exposure and awareness to the needs and circumstances of the LGBTQI community.

“Second is a lack of representation of people that identify as LGBTQI or people that have exposure to that population in decision-making positions in philanthropy. And third, there’s a lack of fundraising capacity and education within the LGBTI not-for-profit sector.”

Mathews added that because no major trusts and foundations in Australia prioritised LGBTI as a key focus of their giving, it “sends a really loud message to the community that they’re not included”.

“And so a big part of improving this is actually explicitly naming that they’re a focus that’s welcomed by a grant rounds,” she said.

Mathews said a key takeaway from the report was that there has not been a voice championing the LGBTQI community as an area that has great potential for philanthropic investment.  

“I think we need some champions in the philanthropic sector that are willing to give voice to this area. We should be having conversations about why this isn’t a focus that’s seen any kind of significant philanthropic funding, other than perhaps in the era of HIV-AIDS and more recently during the marriage-equality campaign,” she said.

“Philanthropy really stepped up at that point and that was the first time that there’d been a significant influx of philanthropic funds into an LGBTQI related program. And that’s a really fantastic win. But the fight is not over.

“All the fantastic initiatives that we’ve seen out of that LGBTQI community are almost completely volunteer-led, severely underfunded and there’s a massive opportunity to fill that gap. And I think that now is the time for philanthropy to step up.”

The report found that grant-making charities in Australia had a combined total revenue of $16.5 billion in 2016, while controlling $56.5 billion in total assets.

Despite this, 81 per cent of charities operated with no paid staff, and were supported by 337,288 volunteers.

ACNC commissioner, Dr Gary Johns, said the report offered insight into the diversity of the grant-making sector.

“This report provides data which illustrates the many forms philanthropy and giving can take in Australia,” Johns said.

“More than 10,000 charities identified themselves as primarily focusing on grant-making activities in 2016.

“Grant-making charities distribute grants and donations to other charities and charitable causes.”

Grant-making charities also employed 103,211 staff, which Johns said contributed to the sector’s strong employment numbers.

“The charity sector is Australia’s second largest employer – of which grant-making charities are part,” he said.

“Our research showed that more than 37 per cent of funding was distributed to organisations through public or open processes, and 14 per cent of grants were issued to rural and regional recipients.

“Grants are predominantly used to build the capacity and capabilities of a charity, to provide support services or advocate for or against an issue. Funding from grants can [also] be used as the starting point for a charity to commence new service offerings or to help more beneficiaries.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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