We dedicate this report to the 378 activists who shared their data and perspectives with us. We are grateful to you for taking time out from your important work to respond to this survey. We hope this report will serve and advance your struggles for lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women’s and non-binary people’s human rights, as well as be a tool to mobilize additional, much needed resources for your essential work.


Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements was written by Linda M. Saleh and Neha Sood of Feminist Solutions towards Global Justice (FemJust). This research was commissioned by Mama Cash and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Project guidance was provided by Chantelle de Nobrega, Mariam Gagoshashvili, Sarah Gunther, and Susan Jessop, with invaluable support from Sophie Kreitzberg. Survey design and data analysis were conducted by Linda M. Saleh and Neha Sood from FemJust, Alexandra Pittman, PhD, and Sharon Tsui, PhD. Thanks to Angelika Arutyunova for research and writing in Chapter 2, to Alejandra Sarda for writing the Aireana case study, and to Jennifer Lentfer for editing support. Translations of the survey were provided by Mariam Bagayoko, Alejandra Sarda, and Yana Sitnikova.

Read more ▾


We also acknowledge the leadership of Happy Kinyili of Mama Cash and Luam Kidane who co-led Phase One of this project with Mariam Gagoshashvili; Phase One involved in-depth consultations with LBQ activists, which laid the groundwork for the research and this report.

Thank you to the LBQ Activist Advisory Committee for their feedback, support with dissemination efforts, and nuanced reflections throughout the project: Nicolette Bryan, Silvia Casalino, Azar Causevic, Kendra Johnson, Nermeen Khaled, Anne Lim, Otibho Obianwu, Kelly Perneth, Ghiwa Sayegh, Natalia Soloviova, and Sulique Waqa.

Thank you to Namita Chad, Bridget de Gersigny, Kim Kaletsky, Lame Olebile, Sabrina Rich, and Mihika Srivastava of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Sarah van Brussel, Lara Fergus, Karen Kraan, and Zohra Moosa of Mama Cash for their valuable review of and feedback on this report.

Thank you to Ise Bosch, Matthew Hart, Renate Hartman, Annie Hillar, and David Sampson who provided valuable feedback on the donor survey and advice on our dissemination and advocacy strategy. This report also includes research undertaken by the Global Philanthropy Project and Funders for LGBTQ Issues; thank you for so generously sharing your data.

This research was funded by the generous support of Dreilinden gGmbH and the Baring Foundation.


Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice: One of the first women’s funds in the world, Astraea was founded in 1977 by a cross-class multi-racial group of women activists looking to fund a burgeoning women’s movement that centered the leadership of lesbians and women of color. In 1990, we came out as a lesbian organization, proudly embracing our identity and lifting up the often unrecognized leadership of lesbians and queer people in many social movements. Today, Astraea is the only philanthropic organization exclusively dedicated to lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LBTQI) rights globally. Through grantmaking, capacity building, philanthropic advocacy, and media and communications, we support brilliant and bold grassroots activists and artists who challenge oppression and seed social change. Astraea invests in, advocates for, and amplifies LBTQI and feminist movements organizing for gender, economic, and racial justice, bolstering their power and sustainability. In our 40+ year history, we are proud to have granted more than $44 million to 1,700+ LBTQI activists and artists.

Mama Cash: Mama Cash was founded by five lesbians in 1983 and has been led by lesbian and queer women throughout our history. We fund and support women’s, girls’, and trans and intersex people’s rights organizations and initiatives around the globe that challenge the root causes of injustice and have always worked to ensure the inclusion of LBQ women in feminist movements. Mama Cash’s role is to provide the money and support that enables our grantee-partners to strengthen their organizations, build their bases of support, shape agendas for change, and collaborate with others to build movements for change. We mobilize resources from individuals and institutions, make grants to women’s, girls’, and trans and intersex people’s organizations, and help build the partnerships and networks they need to successfully defend and advance their rights. Since 1983, Mama Cash has awarded over €72 million to feminist and women’s rights activists worldwide.

FemJust: Feminist Solutions towards Global Justice (FemJust) is a feminist consulting practice committed to supporting organizations to achieve social justice and secure human rights for all. We bring expertise and offer innovative solutions in the areas of research, policy analysis, advocacy, and capacity building. Using results-oriented feminist strategies, we work to connect people’s realities to initiatives that will spur social transformation. 

Suggested Citation

Saleh, L and Sood, N, (2020). Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements. New York and Amsterdam: Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Mama Cash.

Design: Zeppa.


In this report, “LBQ” focuses on sexual identity and is inclusive of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women, both cisgender and trans, and all non-binary people on the gender spectrum who relate to a lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer identity.


Activist survey

The activist survey, a structured questionnaire, was launched on SurveyMonkey from September 19 – November 16, 2018. The survey was available in English, French, Russian, and Spanish and was widely distributed across listservs and promoted on social media. Names and other identifying information from respondents were not collected in order to ensure anonymity.

The key inclusion criteria for the activist survey included respondents that belong to groups that are self-governing or autonomous and work specifically on LBQ issues or with LBQ communities. In addition, LBQ people must comprise the majority (50% or more) of the group’s leadership. The final analytic sample included 378 LBQ groups. 


Donor survey

The donor survey, a structured questionnaire, was launched on SurveyMonkey from October 2 – December 14, 2018. The donor survey was distributed through targeted dissemination and offered in English only based on the assumption that English was at least one of the working languages of the donor institution. 

 The key inclusion criteria for the donor survey included donors that identified as either a public, private, corporate, or community foundation or association, donor collaborative, or as a non-governmental organization or intermediary and whose institution provided resources for LBQ groups or issues in 2017. The final analytic sample included 67 donors. 



Interviews conducted in early 2019 with LBQ groups that are current or former grantees of Astraea and Mama Cash informed the development of four case studies included in this report. The groups featured in the case studies use strategies that focus on community and movement-building; well-being and safety; and cultural change, including the use of artivism. These strategies were selected because previously conducted research showed that these are prioritized by LBQ groups. 53 — From 2016-2017 Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Mama Cash held two consultative meetings with 90 activists to conduct preliminary research on the movement building and funding priorities of LBQ activists as well as the strengths and challenges that LBQ movements face. Regional diversity, budget size, the focus of the group’s work, and its leadership were taken into account in selecting groups.


Data analysis

SurveyMonkey data were imported into SAS 9.4 (Cary, NC, SAS Institute Inc.) for data cleaning, creation of summary variables for analysis, and analysis. Descriptive statistics were produced with frequencies and proportions for categorical variables, and means, median, standard deviations, minima, and maxima for continuous variables.



The survey data come from a convenience sample and may under-represent groups that did not have access to the surveys. The surveys were self-administered by individuals within the organizations (activists and donors) and have not been independently verified by the researchers through observations or formal documentation. Finally, some survey questions were optional, resulting in substantial numbers of missing responses. 

LBQ activists who were not fluent in English, French, Russian, or Spanish may have found the survey inaccessible. Likewise, donor institutions that do not operate in English may not have been able to complete the survey. In at least one instance, informal translation of the survey was provided to a respondent in order to facilitate participation but there may have also been other cases. 

The participation of an advisory committee member for Oceania could not be secured and this may have prevented the wider participation of activists from the region and also limited region-specific feedback.

Regional groupings



Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Réunion, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe


Asia and the Pacific

Afghanistan, American Samoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Pitcairn, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Wallis and Futuna Islands


Europe and Central Asia

Abkhazia, Åland Islands, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Nagorno-Karabakh, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Sark, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Ossetia, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Transnistria, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uzbekistan 


Latin America and the Caribbean

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Islas Malvinas, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Uruguay, Venezuela


Middle East/Southwest Asia

Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine/Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen


North America

Canada, United States of America


A term to describe people whose gender identity or expression matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

The practice of funding a project or business by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.

Funding sources that include government, foundation, or other institutional funding and that exclude membership fees, community fundraisers, events, and individual contributions from founders or their family members. It is a measure of the combined support that LBQ groups receive from government, private, and public institutional donors.

Intersectionality is an analytic sensibility first developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American lawyer and civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory, as a way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power. The term is used to describe how different forms of discrimination can interact and overlap, and why it is necessary for feminists to take into account the needs of women from a variety of backgrounds when considering social questions and issues. Originally articulated on behalf of Black women, the term brought to light the invisibility of many constituents within groups that claim them as members, but often fail to represent them. For example, Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color within LGBTQI movements; Girls of Color in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline; women within immigration movements; trans women within feminist movements; and people with disabilities fighting police abuse — all face vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, class oppression, transphobia, able-ism and more. Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion.

Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads, and/or chromosome patterns) that vary from typical binary notions of male or female bodies. Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. The term “intersex” has been reclaimed by some intersex people as a part of their larger personal and political identities.

In the context of this report, LBQ focuses on sexual identity and is inclusive of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women, both cis and trans, and all non-binary people on the gender spectrum who relate to a lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer identity.

In the content of this report, LBQ people comprised the majority (50% or more) of a group’s leadership in order to classify the organization as “LBQ-led” and be included in our sample of LBQ groups.

In the context of this report, “LBQ-inclusive” funding is defined as broad funding streams or programs, e.g., LGBTQI or women’s rights funding, that is meant to be inclusive of LBQ communities or issues, but is not specifically targeted to LBQ communities or issues.

In the context of this report, “LBQ-specific” funding is defined as funding directed specifically to LBQ communities or issues.

Abbreviation for the words “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “trans/transgender,” “queer,” and “intersex.”

A gender identity that cannot be defined within the gender binary (the categories of woman and man). Non-binary people understand their gender as either in-between or beyond the binary, or they reject the concept of having a gender entirely. Non-binary identities can be either fixed or fluid. Non-binary is a diverse identity, which means that non-binary has become an umbrella term as well as being an identity category in its own right. Other terms sometimes used include genderqueer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming. Non-binary people who identify with a lesbian, bisexual, or queer sexuality are included as a focus constituency in this report.

A private foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization or charitable trust. Its principal fund usually comes from a single source, such as an individual, family, or corporation, and is managed by the foundation’s own trustees or directors. Private foundations support charitable, educational, religious, or other activities serving the public good. A private foundation does not solicit funds from the public.

Public foundations or charities receive funding from the public – donations from individuals and grants from governments and private foundations. Some public foundations/charities give grants, while others provide direct service or other tax-exempt activities.

The word “queer” has been used in the past as a derogatory term for someone perceived to be gay or lesbian. “Queer” has been reclaimed in recent decades and is embraced by many with pride. It is a multi-faceted and complex word. Used as a collective term, it is used as a concise way of referring to all parts of the LGBT community. However, queer also refers to a resistance to and rejection of heteronormative standards, assimilation, dominant notions of “normality,” and respectability politics. It also refers to people who do not fit cultural norms around sexuality and/or gender identity/expression.

Transgender people identify themselves by many different terms, some of which are specific to local cultures, including fa’afafine, travesti, hijra, genderqueer, or transpinoy—to name just a few.

Women’s funds are foundations that have often emerged from feminist movements and raise and distribute money in a way that supports the collective and organized power of grassroots women, girls, trans, and intersex people around the world. They bring contextual awareness to feminist issues, and provide financial resources to groups as well as other resources to realize their vision of social transformation.

This report is also published in print & PDF. Download Your full copy here.