The research shows that LBQ activism is growing all over the world. These vibrant groups are determinedly doing their work with intense commitment and very little money, often in quite harsh and repressive circumstances. In their organizing across diverse movements, they are improving the lives of LBQ people while advancing multiple social justice causes.
They are, however, also struggling. LBQ groups are under-resourced and under-staffed, and they have weak safety nets. They organize intersectionally but are typically funded through narrowly defined portfolios. They envision creating long-term structural and systemic change, but are principally funded with short-term, often project-based grants.
The foundation donors who participated in this research see the value of LBQ groups’ work, but current levels of funding are insufficient. Many donors are funding LBQ work through broad funding that is meant to include LBQ communities, but without strategies to ensure that the funding actually reaches LBQ-led groups. It is encouraging that half of the donors surveyed indicated an intention to increase LBQ funding in the next two years. This presents an important and timely opportunity for dedicated action to close the funding gap and ensure LBQ groups get the critical funding they need.
By providing more and better quality funding to LBQ-led groups, donors can unleash the power of LBQ groups to secure transformative change in their communities. Given rising conservatism, nationalisms, and fundamentalisms around the world, and the importance of building and supporting strong movements to fight back, funding grassroots LBQ groups who are working intersectionally and addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing our world is a smart and underutilized strategy that will enable all donors to support and advance progressive political organizing around the globe.
LBQ groups are doing creative and critical social change work, but they are hampered by insufficient funding. Forty percent of groups have a budget of less than $5,000 USD, and a third of groups are receiving no external funding at all. New funding should be dedicated for LBQ issues and directed to LBQ-led groups, especially those based outside of North America. LBQ groups are strongly rooted in their communities, have expertise on the specific needs of LBQ people, and have the greatest accountability to LBQ people within movement ecosystems. LBQ groups work intersectionally, use multiple and diverse strategies, and are building the movements we need to fight for justice.
Many LBQ groups are recently formed and have limited experience applying for funding; two in five groups are unregistered. Donors should make funding more accessible to LBQ groups by simplifying application requirements, providing feedback on rejected applications, and partnering with public foundations, women’s funds, and intermediaries that have the capacity and expertise to reach and support small and/or unregistered groups.
LBQ groups require sustained funding to establish themselves and to do effective work. However, more than half (56%) of LBQ groups have never received multi-year funding and less than a quarter (22%) receive unrestricted funding. Donors should:
While LBQ groups are under-funded across the globe, there are stark regional differences. Groups in Europe and Central Asia and Asia and the Pacific had the lowest median external funding at $1,150 and $1,170, respectively. Donors should address these gaps by targeting new resources to these regions, which have strong and diverse LBQ groups and movements. While we did not have sufficient activist data to report on the Middle East/Southwest Asia, it’s clear that this region also needs dedicated attention.
Across the board, LBQ groups report that they do not have sufficient funding to implement their strategies, with some particularly notable gaps. More than two-thirds (69%) of LBQ groups engage in research and knowledge production, addressing the limited public understanding about LBQ communities and the rights violations they face. Nearly two-thirds (63%) provide direct health and social services to their communities, responding to the failures of larger institutions to meet LBQ people’s needs. However, less than half (43%) of donors in our sample funded research and knowledge production, and only a third (32%) funded service delivery. Donors should give particular attention to these areas. Investing in research and knowledge production can serve the additional goal of raising visibility among funders and making the case to address LBQ groups’ funding gaps. Supporting direct health services, including mental health and wellness, is critical for the well-being of LBQ organizers and the sustainability of their movements.
LBQ groups have very limited access to non-financial support to invest in their organizational capacities, with just around 10% reporting that they receive it at all and significant disparities between what they report accessing and what donors report providing. LBQ groups particularly need but are not receiving introductions to potential donors and capacity building support for program and strategy development, fundraising, and monitoring and evaluation. Donors should make dedicated efforts to invest in the organizational strengthening of LBQ groups as well as to connect them with new donors, contributing to their sustainability and resilience.
It is striking that a majority (67%) of donors who describe their work as LBQ-inclusive do not have intentional strategies to ensure that their funding is actually reaching LBQ communities. In consultation with LBQ activists, donors should develop specific and measurable strategies to ensure their funding actually reaches LBQ communities. For example, donors can ask non-LBQ-specific grantees about the strategies they use to reach LBQ people, their track record in promoting the rights of LBQ people, or how many people in their leadership identify as LBQ.
While the foundation donors we surveyed overwhelmingly want to support intersectional work, and LBQ groups are working across issues and movements, LBQ groups most often receive funding from LGBTQI portfolios. Donors should explore joint grantmaking initiatives that respond to LBQ groups’ intersectional organizing, including collaborations across thematic departments within institutions. There are particularly meaningful opportunities for women’s rights and gender equality donors to increase support for LBQ groups, who are working on issues of bodily autonomy, sexual rights, and gender justice. Donors who focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, young people, sex workers, and other issues and constituencies should also consider how LBQ groups fit into their portfolios.