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5 min read

Unleashing the potential of LGBTIQ+ philanthropy

Profile of Nicole Richards
Written by Nicole RichardsPosted on 10/10/2022

As we approach the fifth anniversary of marriage equality in Australia, LGBTIQ+ communities continue to have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in the country.

They also experience higher rates of isolation, discrimination, and poorer health and economic outcomes than non-LGBTIQ+ peers. 

At a satellite event of the recent Philanthropy Australia national conference, hosted by the Reichstein Foundation, Snow Foundation and Australian Communities Foundation, five-time Olympic champion and LGBTIQ+ advocate, Ian Thorpe AM, shared some of his own experience.  

“I have struggled with my own mental health at times,” Ian said. “We know that 70 per cent of people with a mental health problem that needs clinical help won’t seek that help from a professional.  

“Suicidality is five times higher in the LGBTIQ+ community and for trans and gender diverse people it is 11 times as likely.” 

“I was asked by a journalist at age 16 if I was gay and every time I was asked about my sexuality it was an accusation,” Ian continued. 

“I came out the year before the Equality campaign happened and I did that to make sure we’re having those conversations around the dinner table. To remind people that we’re part of your family and part of your community.”  

Representation matters 

In Australia, only 76 registered charities list LGBTIQ+ people as the main beneficiary group they serve and the evidence base established by the Where are the Rainbow Resources Report (2022) indicates that the LGBTIQ+ community wants and needs community-led support. 

“Members of our community want programs run by people they identify with,” explained Georgia Mathews, Director at GiveOUT and the Aurora Group.   

“We still haven’t seen a significant injection of philanthropic funding into LGBTIQ+ communities in Australia and the fact is our communities aren’t doing very well. As soon as an LGBTIQ+ person faces one additional barrier, whether it be economic, social, or cultural, to their wellbeing, they become much more marginalised. These intersecting issues are ones philanthropy is concerned with.” 

We still haven’t seen a significant injection of philanthropic funding into LGBTIQ+ communities in Australia

Philanthropic support, Georgia explained, will be critical in helping more community-led LGBTIQ+ organisations get up and running.  

“We know that more than 50 per cent of the LGBTIQ+ organisations we surveyed for the Rainbow Resources report don’t have a single paid staff member,” she said.

“Without community-led organisations, LGBTIQ+ people don’t have a voice in the co-design of things like the mental health programs that are needed.” 

Anna Brown from Equality Australia echoed the concerns, noting that trans and gender diverse young people are disproportionately marginalised and stigmatised, with one in two trans young people attempting suicide.  

“There are so many opportunities ahead,” Anna said. “In the recent election result we rejected as a nation the politics of hate. We have a diverse Parliament which is perhaps the most progressive in Australian history and yet there’s still no federal minister or department for LGBTIQ+ communities. At the recent Job Skills Summit, there was no LGBTIQ+ voice. 

Without community-led organisations, LGBTIQ+ people don’t have a voice in the co-design of things like the mental health programs that are needed

“We need organisations like Equality Australia to keep pushing to make sure religious organisations can’t discriminate against our community.  

“We also want to keep advocating to be counted in the Census – we don’t collect information to understand how many LGBTIQ+ people there are in this country and that leads to fundamental structural problems.” 

When philanthropy supports the LGBTIQ+ community, great things have been achieved, Tom Snow, Chair of Equality Australia, reminded the assembled guests.  

With WorldPride coming to the southern hemisphere for the first time in Feb-Mar 2023, Sydney WorldPride gives Australia an opportunity to “be the catalyst for real and lasting change” he said. 

“Give Out, Aurora and the Pride Foundation are three organisations that are all well-positioned to connect funders with the LGBTIQ+ community.” 

The new Amplify Pride Fund created by GiveOUT and Aurora with support from the Snow Foundation, is designed to provide larger and more sustainable funding to LGBTIQ+ organisations.

Using an evidence-based, LGBTIQ+ community-led grantmaking process to identify the most pressing issues and the organisations addressing them with the highest potential for impact, the Fund aims to ensure individual donors and major philanthropic foundations can scale up their investment to achieve positive impact in LGBTIQ+ communities. 

Learn more about GiveOUT

Ways to get involved 

4. Signal your interest in participating in an LGBTIQ+ Funders Group by contacting Georgia Mathews: All you need to qualify is an interest in funding, and the capacity to fund, LGBTIQ+ communities.