Queer Eye for the Straight Organization
“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Ellen,” “The L-Word,” “TransAmerica,” “Brokeback Mountain” — clearly lesbians, gays, bisexuals and
transgenders are more visible in our country’s culture than ever before. More than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, and half provide health benefits to their domestically partnered employees. While LGBT people still don’t have full and equal rights (such as in marriage) or nondiscrimination protection (such as in employment) in the United States, all polls show a steady and increasing acceptance of LGBT people in American society.
Just as corporate America is realizing that fair and equal treatment of its LGBT employees is good for the bottom line, so too are nonprofit organizations realizing that catering to LGBT donors is good for theirs. But as was discussed in the July/August 2004 issue of FundRaising Success, if you want to raise money from the LGBT community, your organization needs to first walk the walk.
Before starting any type of marketing or fundraising activities focusing on the LGBT community, make sure your organization’s nondiscrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity; also make sure your personnel policies and practices include equal provisions for domestic partners and families by adoption. Many inquisitive LGBT donors will (and should) check on such things before opening their wallets. Also take a quick audit of openly LGBT staff and board members. Enlist their support early for your efforts. If there are no openly LGBT members of your board and staff, it might indicate a need to do some work on your organizational culture.
Depending on your mission, there might be some important areas of your program work that are LGBT-inclusive; begin to highlight them in your newsletters, board reports and other communications. By drawing the public’s attention to these areas of your work, you naturally will attract some LGBT donors in your community, and existing LGBT donors might begin to identify themselves. If you have program areas that should be more inclusive of the LGBT community, address that carefully before beginning to fundraise intentionally from LGBT people. Any group that historically has been stigmatized and left out of social institutions will be attentive and respond favorably to being genuinely and visibly included in an organization they’re interested in getting involved with — even as simple check writers.