The underfunded rainbow: the push to grow the pot of gold
4 October 2021 at 5:29 pm
Ahead of GiveOUT Day later this month, Nevena Spirovska reflects on the lack of funding that goes towards LGBTIQ+ projects and the impact this has on the LGBTIQ+ community.
No matter what side of the social services sector you find yourself on, one issue universally dominates, that of funding. Whether organisations are putting together budget submissions to the federal or state government, navigating grants, forging partnerships with philanthropy, engaging the private sector, or undertaking community fundraising, the task of acquiring, maintaining, and building funds remains critically important year on year.
Despite many positive strides and a growing awareness of the shocking health and wellbeing disparities between LGBTIQ+ communities and the general population, LGBTIQ+ community-led organisations continue to highlight the unmet needs of LGBTIQ+ communities. This includes the crucial need to invest in tackling homophobic and transphobic violence, providing access to safe housing, addressing health and wellbeing inequity, tackling marginalisation and discrimination, especially in regional and rural areas, as well as celebrating queer history and Pride events.
Though approximately 11 per cent of Australians identify as being of diverse sexuality, only the tiniest amount of available funding sources are being directly given to LGBTIQ+ projects. Between 2013-2018, that amounted to just 50 cents of every 100 philanthropic dollars.
Presently, LGBTIQ+ projects are not currently well targeted by Australian funding organisations or the philanthropy sector in general. The numbers speak for themselves: between 2013-2018, of the 45,155 local government grant applications approved in Australia, only 165 went to LGBTIQ+ causes, representing 0.37 per cent of the funding. Shockingly, of 2,882 federal government grant applications, only two were awarded to LGBITQ+ causes, amounting to 0.07 per cent of total funding. SmartyGrants reported that only 0.7 per cent of grant programs specifically sought applications for LGBTIQ+ projects, while only a further 1.2 per cent mentioned LGBTIQ+ causes. In other words, LGBTIQ+ projects are not well targeted by funding organisations, which may be discouraging LGBTIQ+ groups and those running LGBTIQ+ projects from applying in the first instance.
The lack of proportional funding means many organisations, projects, and services remain underfunded. This not only impacts the capacity of service delivery, organisation growth, and employment opportunities but also the capacity of the LGBTIQ+ sector to respond directly to the needs of LGBTIQ+ communities.
Another effect of this lack of funding is that the Australian LGBTIQ+ community is not highly formalised. As at June 2019, there were only 96 charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission who were dedicated to servicing the LGBTIQ+ community. Contrast that with the approximately 56,000 registered charities existing across Australia in total. 62 per cent of the LGBTIQ+ charities reported an annual income less than $1 million in 2017-18, with an average annual income of $230,792.
All of this has left a funding gap that is in part being filled by GiveOUT Day, a national day of giving to LGBTIQ+ projects, community groups, and not-for-profit organisations. Established in 2016, GiveOUT Day builds the capacity of LGBTIQ+ communities to resource their own important social change work by providing infrastructure, guidance and awareness of key work being done in the space. GiveOUT Day also increases the awareness of the health, wellbeing, and social issues that are impacting Australian LGBTIQ+ communities and builds visibility of grassroots LGBTIQ+ organisations. Last year, 62 LGBTIQ+ organisations participated in GiveOUT Day across the country with a total of $299,427 raised.
Though grown out of necessity, this day represents an important step forward in the LGBTIQ+ community meeting its needs and supporting organisations and projects that may otherwise fall out of scope of other funding avenues. This allows crucial community work, from the grassroots to the well established, to not only receive much-needed funding but promote its cause more broadly to the community and beyond, highlighting issues that would otherwise be limited to funding applications and submissions by providing a centralised platform of promotion.
GiveOUT Day is Friday 15 October 2021. To find out how you can get involved, visit giveout.org.au.