CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new report from a national LGBT philanthropy research group says funding for LGBT communities in the South is significantly lower than other regions of the country despite the South’s large LGBT population and needs.
Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ report, “Out in the South: Building Resources for LGBTQ Advancement in the U.S. South,” notes startlingly concerning and disproportionate funding levels.
With more than 3 in 10 LGBT U.S. adults living in the South, the group says the South is home to a larger LGBT population than any other region of the country. Yet, the South receives just 3-4 percent of national domestic LGBT spending.
It’s a topic Funders for LGBTQ Issues and others have known about for some time. Last July, the group convened LGBT and progressive philanthropists and foundations in Charlotte for a meeting to discuss the issue.
“It all really started with a few of our members who are based in the South and they realized they were among the few who were funding LGBT communities in the South at a significant level,” Funders’ President Ben Fancisco Maulbeck told qnotes. “It’s been a long-neglected region.”
The group’s report shows that the South received just $4.4 million in 2011 and $4.8 million in 2012. Nationally, funders contributed just under $51 million to LGBT issues in 2011 and just over $46 million in 2012.
Put into perspective, the numbers are striking. In 2012, New York City alone received over $10 million for local services, advocacy and funding — more than twice the amount of the entire South. Average per capita spending across the nation is about $5.78 per adult. In the South, that number is just $1.71 per adult and the South was the only region of the country not containing a single state which topped the national average.
The numbers do not include funding for national organizations.
“The South has just not gotten as much support,” said Maulbeck. “A lot of the national support has been focused on where we thought we had the easiest victories or the greatest possibility for victories, and that’s generally not the South.”
The Charlotte meeting was held to gauge what Funders for LGBTQ Issues, philanthropists and funders could do to help solve the problem. Fifty groups gathered, including the Foundation for the Carolinas’ Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, one of the state’s largest non-LGBT, progressive funding groups. Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ report, the first in a multi-part series, is partly a result of the meeting and will help to raise awareness and highlight solutions, said Maulbeck. The report was released in late January, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Houston.
There, Maulbeck said he began to receive near-immediate positive feedback.
“From southern leaders, we’ve heard of this honest sense of validation from people who’ve said it’s great to see a report that shows quantitatively with numbers what they’ve been feeling and experiences for years,” said Maulbeck.
Funders, he said, have acknowledged a “collective awareness that this is a call to action.”
Maulbeck added, “We are a different moment in the movement and the South has been left behind. It’s time to think about how to change that collectively.”
The report wasn’t all bad news, however. Funders for LGBTQ Issues found some states and local communities with strong, local philanthropy efforts. The Carolinas were among them, counting local giving by groups like the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, Raleigh’s Crape Myrtle Foundation, Greensboro’s Guilford Green Foundation and Winston-Salem’s Adam Foundation. The Alliance for Full Acceptance is based in Charleston.
Other parts of the report delved into more detailed spending breakdowns, including where money in the South is being spent. Nationally, more money goes toward advocacy, while the South receives more funding for direct services, in particular health funding — a reflection, perhaps of the South’s higher HIV/AIDS incidence rates.
Maulbeck said his group will continue moving forward to raise awareness and push for change. Later installments in their reporting series will examine the health of LGBT non-profits and the state of southern LGBT non-profit infrastructure. : :
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Who’s giving and receiving
Two North Carolina groups ranked in the top funders in Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ report.
Both the Foundation for the Carolinas, which houses the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, and Winston-Salem’s Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation ranked in the top 25 largest donors of southern LGBT issues, respectively giving $176,415 and $135,000 in 2011 and 2012.
North Carolina groups also ranked in the top 25 grant recipients. From 2011-2012, Equality North Carolina received $227,100; Duke University received $150,000; Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte received $150,000; and Time Out Youth Center received $113,560.