LGBTQ nonprofits make the case for Give OUT Day generosity

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday April 30, 2024
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Renee Ho, founder of Amor Para Todos in Petaluma, spoke at last year's Give OUT Day finale event. Photo: Courtesy Renee Ho
Renee Ho, founder of Amor Para Todos in Petaluma, spoke at last year's Give OUT Day finale event. Photo: Courtesy Renee Ho

LGBTQ community nonprofits are making the case for why they are worthy recipients of donations through Horizons Foundation's Give OUT Day, which starts May 1 and wraps up May 30. Last year, some $1.2 million was raised, according to the foundation.

Give OUT Day started in 2013 and was run for several years by Bolder Giving. Horizons took over the event in 2016 and later expanded it from its initial 24-hour cycle to a month as a way to increase giving to nonprofits. While Horizons is based in San Francisco, Give OUT Day has always been a national endeavor and remains so. It includes participating nonprofits from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

This year, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, it was decided to move Give OUT Day to May rather than hold it during Pride Month in June. Horizons officials noted in a statement earlier this year that many organizations have fundraising campaigns of their own in June and the back-to-back events limited creativity and flexibility. Most of those who responded to a survey expressed a preference for May, Horizons' statement read.

"The organizations that participate in Give OUT Day are the backbone of our communities," Roger Doughty, a gay man who is the president of Horizons, told the B.A.R. in a phone interview. "They're often the organizations that are closest to the ground, that do the work to take care of and advocate for our community every day, and this year in particular, with the stakes as high as we all know, giving through this unique national day for LGBTQ giving is more important than ever."

Horizons' website hosts a list of 385 participating nonprofits. The site allows one-time or monthly donations for each.

Amor Para Todos, which means "Love for all," is based in Petaluma and is participating in the fundraiser. Founded in 2019 by Renee Ho, a straight ally, the organization seeks to serve LGBTQIA+ youth in Sonoma County.

"If folks need any motivation to donate, it's because our work is life-saving," Ho said in a phone interview with the B.A.R. "We do an inclusive gender curriculum for schools, elementary-based. We advocate for inclusive sex education. We also have Amor Para Todos student clubs. We have 20 now and the majority of those are for elementary schools. We've also designed gender restroom signage that's intersectional and not binary."

Ho said that Amor Para Todos hosts a Rainbow Awareness Art Project to highlight the need for representation.

"It's important for one to see themselves," Ho said. "We use art, imagery, and books. We have a raise-to-save campaign, so we've purchased hundreds of Pride flags for different school districts, businesses, and we've helped advance and broaden Pride flag resolutions in school districts. ... We advocated and funded the first rainbow crosswalk in Petaluma, and worked with several elementary schools in Sonoma County and funded inclusive mural projects. We bring representation wherever we can."

The B.A.R. reported on the crosswalk last June. Amor Para Todos used private funds to paint it on Kentucky Street between Western Avenue and Washington Street.

Amor Para Todos is planning an event for Give OUT Day later this month, Ho said, on Thursday, May 30, from 2 to 9 p.m. at The Block Petaluma at 20 Grey Street. This is Amor Para Todos' fifth annual event.

"Even though Give Out Day is virtual, on the culminating day we want to bring it to life," Ho said, referring to the last day of the campaign. "I think all the organizations on that list — we all have a reason and a motivation to do the work we do. It's so important to support."

Doughty said that Horizons has been "proud to support Amor Para Todos, both through direct grantmaking and through Give Out Day ever since its founding, and we continue to believe the work that they're doing is making tremendous differences in the lives of young queer people and their families and, again, given the atmosphere nationally created by all of the anti-trans legislation and all of the rhetoric we're hearing the challenges for young people, especially young trans people, are again greater than ever."

Individual donors are an important pool for LGBTQ nonprofits. As the B.A.R. reported in its April 25 issue, support for LGBTQ causes by foundations continues to lag behind the needs of the organizations. In 2021, for instance, just 10 foundations accounted for 60% of the $251 million awarded by major philanthropic foundations to LGBTQ groups.

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy's Equitable Giving Lab released new research April 30 highlighting the need for LGBTQ philanthropy. Its report found that charitable giving to LGBTQ+ organizations totaled $823 million in 2021.

While such donations more than doubled from 2012-2021, still less than $1 out of every $500 donated went to support LGBTQ organizations. Certain sectors, such as education-focused groups, grew more (a 254% increase in that time frame) than others, such as HIV/AIDS-related groups (which saw only a 7% increase).

Last May, using funding from as part of the Equitable Giving Lab, the school debuted its LGBTQ+ Index to better track charitable giving in the U.S. to LGBTQ organizations. It includes a searchable database with information on hundreds of LGBTQ agencies from across the country.

Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs for the school, stated, "The LGBTQ+ Index is a valuable resource that both illustrates the resiliency and impact of LGBTQ+ organizations, and also offers an opportunity to better understand the nuanced landscape of giving—ultimately helping advance equity in philanthropy."

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is also taking part in Give OUT Day and asking people to consider donating to make a difference for communities affected by HIV.

"Your generous gift will be put to immediate use to support our community members with our programs and services providing stigma-free health care and support services," a spokesperson for the foundation stated to the B.A.R. "Your donation supports the organization's innovative programs and partnerships that provide housing assistance, counseling, syringe access services, HIV testing and more — all free to those who need them and all shown to help prevent HIV transmission."

Gary McCoy, a gay man who's vice president of policy and public affairs for HealthRight 360, which provides health care and social services, told the B.A.R. that its work has a disproportionate impact in the LGBTQ community. It's also participating in Give OUT Day. Over 7,000 people accessed HealthRIGHT's substance abuse disorder programs in San Francisco, McCoy stated.

"According to SAMHSA's 2021 and 2022 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health — the results of which were released last June — about one-third of bisexual females, bisexual males, and gay males had a substance use disorder in the past year, and about one-fourth of lesbian females had a substance use disorder in the past year," McCoy said, referring to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "HealthRIGHT 360 provides a full continuum of health care and drug treatment services, regardless of one's ability to pay, inspired by our belief that health care is a right, not a privilege."

Dani Siragusa, the director of development and communications at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, stated to the B.A.R. that Give OUT Day has helped it in the past. Located at 1800 Market Street, the center provides employment, financial, and youth services, and is again taking part in the monthlong fundraising event.

"Give Out Day is the only national giving event for the LGBTQ community, and since 2013, it has helped hundreds of LGBTQ nonprofits, including the SF LGBT center, raise critical funds for our transformative programs and services," Siragusa stated. "We encourage folks to pledge their support for so many incredible LGBTQ+ nonprofits, through Give OUT Day's impactful platform."

Allegra Madsen, a lesbian, became the permanent executive director of Frameline, which produces San Francisco's annual LGBTQ film festival, earlier this year, as the B.A.R. reported. It will also seek donations through Give OUT Day.

"In this climate supporting queer joy, community, and visibility affects cultural change," Madsen said. "This begins with art and storytelling. To that end participating in the festival and supporting the festival promotes our communities and the change we want to see."

Frameline will be hosting the first-ever Castro neighborhood commemoration of Juneteenth on Wednesday, June 19, with an outdoor event featuring music and a screening of "Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero." Frameline's full slate of events for this year's film festival will be announced May 21. Because of the closure of the Castro Theatre due to the ongoing renovation and restoration project, film screenings this year will be held at the Roxie Theater, the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, the Herbst Theatre, the Vogue Theater, and the New Parkway Theater in Oakland.

Elizabeth Lanyon, associate director of philanthropy for the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the B.A.R. that Give OUT Day is "a rally cry for everyone to serve as allies and advocates for LGTBQ people and organizations, such as NCLR."

"We are proud to have participated in Give OUT Day for several years alongside many other organizations who rely on the commitment of individuals to move our missions forward," Lanyon stated. "NCLR continues to lead national efforts fighting for our community, and when you give to NCLR on Give OUT Day — or anytime really — you are bolstering our work while making it known that you, too, believe in our values of justice and equity."

Andrew Shaffer, a gay man who is director of development and communications for the GLBT Historical Society, which runs the GLBT Historical Society Museum at 4127 18th Street in the Castro neighborhood, stated that Give OUT Day is an opportunity to stand up for organizations on the front lines of defending LGBTQ rights.

"Anti-LGBTQ crusaders are working hard at every level to push us back into the closets and strip away hard-won rights," Shaffer stated. "As a global day of LGBTQ generosity, Give OUT Day is an important way we can resist these movements and show up for each other, by supporting the organizations working to keep our communities and culture safe."

Dolores Street Community Services oversees Jazzie's Place, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ adults. As the B.A.R. recently reported, it once again reached its full pre-COVID capacity in December post-reopening.

"Give OUT Day presents a vital opportunity to support DSCS and its transformative programs," spokesperson Jackeline Rodriguez stated. "Every donation contributes to their mission of empowerment, advocacy, and social justice."

Give OUT Day covers the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ community. Another organization participating is San Francisco's Transgender District, the world's first legally recognized district for transgender people.

Carlo Gomez Arteaga, a trans man, is leading the district alongside Breonna McCree, a woman of trans experience. They issued a joint statement touching on how Give OUT Day "enables the Transgender District to amplify awareness of our crucial mission, vision, programs, and initiatives within the transgender and nonbinary communities and beyond."

"Give OUT Day also serves as a dedicated and essential fundraising avenue specifically tailored for organizations like ours, which serve the transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) community," they stated. "The Transgender District heavily relies on donations to sustain our operations, bolster community projects, and deliver crucial services to individuals within our Tenderloin district and further. Our involvement in Give OUT Day facilitates the generation of funds that are indispensable for the district's ongoing expansion and ever-growing impact."

Help nonprofits outside big cities

Will McGarvey, the every-gender-loving executive director of the in Fairfield, said that donations can help bring further acceptance and equality outside the big cities.

"Give OUT Day is a huge opportunity for LGBTQ centers in counties like ours that serve as bedroom communities, even while folks may spend a lot of their working hours in different counties," McGarvey said. "If they want to come back here and make change in the culture of this county they're living in, we definitely need more funds to be able to make that kind of systemic cultural change."

Doughty said that supporting more suburban and rural communities is a big part of Give OUT Day's mission.

"I absolutely agree with that, and one of the things we've been proudest of in running Give OUT Day these past nine years has been the reach of the program into rural parts of the country, as well as cities, and that is something that is a significant challenge, the fundraising for organizations in less populated areas," he said. "One of the things we hope Give OUT Day has accomplished has been to help organizations to develop stronger fundraising that can continue beyond Give OUT Day itself."

The fundraiser also isn't just limited to the Bay Area. Marianne Duddy-Burke, a cisgender married lesbian Catholic mom who is executive director of DignityUSA — a national LGBTQ Catholic group barred from meeting on church property in some dioceses, such as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco — stated that "while a large proportion of charitable donations are to religious groups, organizations like DignityUSA that serve and advocate for LGBTQ+ people are not publicized by denominational religious guides.

"So members of our community and our supporters may be unwittingly giving to groups that are working to limit our rights," Duddy-Burke continued. "Give OUT Day has given us the chance to reach new donors, and to obtain contributions from people who want to be part of a movement funding LGBTQ+ advancement."

The program, she added, "has put the generosity of LGBTQ+ donors and allies in the spotlight, and has helped lots of smaller groups doing extraordinary work."

Nonprofits that want to register to participate can begin the process on Horizons' website. Registration is open till May 20.

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