Nonprofits gear up for Give OUT Day
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The LGBT community's largest, and only, national online fundraising effort â€" Give OUT Day â€" is approaching, and those involved with past efforts say that support is needed now more than ever.
Give OUT Day, Thursday, April 20, is a 24-hour online fundraising event that aims to unite donors and nonprofit organizations from across the country to raise critically needed funds. For the second year, it's being produced and managed by San Francisco-based Horizons Foundation.
Over 23,000 individual donors have contributed more than $3 million to 500-plus different organizations in every part of the country since the first Give OUT Day in 2013, noted Roger Doughty, president of Horizons.
The minimum donation is only $10.
"In the current political climate, we know that many people are looking for ways to contribute to the resistance," Doughty said, "and a key part of Horizons' mission is to increase funding nationally for LGBTQ organizations. This year Give OUT Day is so important because the vast majority of nonprofits are getting only a fraction of the resources they need. Horizons can help them raise money even if their own fundraising capacity is limited."
All nonprofits serving the LGBTQ community incorporated as a 501(c)(3) or receiving money from a qualifying 501(c)(3), and chapters of PFLAG, GSA Network, and GLSEN are eligible to participate.
Horizons is providing a new technology platform for free. Nonprofits can use it to raise funds, motivate supporters, attract new donors, and increase visibility. Horizons will not receive any portion of the money raised.
Donations will be directly deposited into each nonprofit's bank account, less the fee assessed by Click and Pledge, which is providing banking and card services. The fee is about half that charged by other similar providers, and Horizons will allow participants to continue using the platform after Give OUT Day.
"Organizations can tell donors that each organization gets all funds donated to them," Doughty pointed out. And those funds will be available within 48 hours of the end of the event, according to the Give OUT Day website.
Participating groups receive extensive planning assistance, training, market support, and even tips from those involved in previous years. They also have a chance to win bonus prize money through what Horizons calls "Leaderboards." Horizons' partners are covering all costs for the technology platform, participant training and Leaderboard prizes, which range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Organizations create their own pages within the website and can then send that link to donors via email or social media.
"Give OUT Day is a perfect fit for organizations, which vary so widely in size and scope, and has been shown especially useful for small and mid-size organizations that may not have a development department," said Francisco Buchting, vice president of grants, programs, and strategic initiatives at Horizons.
For the Leaderboards, organizations are divided into categories based on their budget size: three categories for the National Leaderboard, two for the Southern Leaderboard and two for the Bay Area Leaderboard. Scoring is based on the total number of unique donors, not the amount given. Doughty emphasized that the primary goal of Give OUT Day is to increase the number of donors.
Bay Area leaders
Three Bay Area nonprofits that took part in the 2016 Give OUT Day and were Leaderboard winners were eager to talk about their experiences.
GSA Network has participated in Give OUT Day from the start and this will be its fifth year. GSA Network is "next generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains queer, trans, and allied youth leaders to advocate ... for safer schools and healthier communities," according to its website (http://www.gsanetwork.org).
"We've had more success in the last few years as we became more well-known by our donors," explained Geoffrey Winder, co-executive director. "We are geared to social media and lots of our donors are now on social media. This year we'll be talking more about specific programs like our QYLTS (Queer Youth Leading the South) Action Camp and TRUTH (Trans and gender non-conforming youth storytelling movement) Campaign, a joint project with the Transgender Law Center."
Winder said Give OUT Day provides funding for infrastructure projects and is very helpful in acquiring new donors. People can share their "top 5 list" on social media and publicize other organizations, which their friends may not know about.
GSA Network is planning a number of house parties and some staff and board members will have their own sub-pages within the GSA Network main page, an optional capability of the Give OUT Day platform.
Winder said that last year GSA Network saw the largest number of donors ever.
"Due to the current political environment, we are seeing an increase in concern about LGBTQ youth and that has resulted in an increase in unsolicited donations, particularly for programs that impact young people in schools," he added.
Asian, Pacific Islander Equality-Northern California is a small nonprofit that is participating in Give OUT Day for the fourth time and has placed on the Leaderboard every year, which is especially noteworthy as it has only two paid staff.
"We challenge ourselves to lift up as many groups as possible, which feels more resonant than the idea of competition," said Director Sammie Ablaza Wills. "We especially like that this is a national day of giving coordinated with other LGBTQ organizations."
Its website (http://www.apiequalitync.org) states that API Equality's mission is to "increase visibility of our communities (and) through organizing ... to inspire and train leaders, establish intergenerational connections, and document and disseminate our histories."
"Every year presents an incredible opportunity to connect with our supporters," said Wills, who stressed that, "60 percent of our budget comes from individual donations so Give OUT Day is especially important for us." The organization is aiming for 15 to 20 volunteers, each of whom will call their friends, family, and mentors.
Due to the April timing of Give OUT Day (last year it was held in August), Wills said there is an opportunity to talk about API Equality's summer leadership development program, which is how Wills first became involved. Also for the first time, API Equality is planning to livestream video three times on Give OUT Day to showcase what the funds raised will be used for.
"In the current political environment, so many communities are under attack so it's critical to develop leaders to build alliances to take us through this moment and to a better life. We see Give OUT Day as an opportunity to update our donors on the great work we are doing," Wills stated. "We see an influx of people wanting to get involved and a new interest in volunteering."
The Transgender Law Center has been at the top of the Leaderboard for several years and that is a source of pride among TLC supporters and staff, according to Ace Portis, director of development.
TLC celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. It works on changing law "so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of gender identity or expression," according to its website (http://www.transgenderlawcenter.org).
"On Give OUT Day, we will try to present the holistic story of TLC, including talking about the work our national organizers are doing, plus highlighting our litigation and policy work. With HB 2 in North Carolina, for example, we saw the power of folks on the ground and created an alliance with SONG (Southerners on New Ground)," Portis said, referring to the anti-trans bathroom law. That law was recently repealed, but the new law in the Tar Heel State prohibits entities from enacting their own anti-LGBT discrimination ordinances and leaves bathroom policy up to state lawmakers.
SONG is a regional queer liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class, rural, and small town LGBTQ people in nine Southeastern U.S. states.
Portis indicated that even given the current political environment, TLC has not reacted by shifting its priorities, but instead developed a new set of standards to highlight the true story of gender-variant people.
"TLC has three guiding themes," Portis explained, "safety, power, and alignment with other movements, like immigration activists.
"TLC strives to always be an incubator of new thoughts," she added, "and one example would be bringing attention to what it means to be a gender non-conforming immigrant. We focus on how to take higher-level ideas and make sure their benefits are reaching the people on the ground."
Horizon's Doughty said, "We are seeing all kinds of attacks against our community and many of our organizations are facing likely budget cuts. Our groups will need more funds to cover gaps that these cuts are likely to create.
"Last year 49 states plus Puerto Rico participated in Give OUT Day," Doughty said. "This year we are hoping to get all 50 states, including Mississippi."
For more information, visit http://www.giveoutday.org.