President's Perspective Blog

Mike's Monday Message Takeover: LGBTQ Fundraising as Future-Building

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Pride Month

Pride month is anchored in a longstanding history of sorrow, rage, and joy coalescing into action. From the contemporary movement’s formative moments — from the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where the bar’s multiracial, gender-diverse clientele fought back against a police raid, to the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot where transgender women defended themselves from police harassment — Pride month is marked by a rebellious history led by and for impacted communities, particularly Black and Latina trans women. As a white queer person, I know that the abundant community in my life and rights I now enjoy were forged by the commitment of transgender women of color.

As your LGBTQ+ colleagues celebrate Pride month, we feel the weight of our world. In the 2024 legislative session alone, 598 anti-trans bills were introduced on the state and national level, shaping up to be another year of historic anti-trans legislation. Book bans continue at an exponential rate relative to any year in history, particularly impacting stories about LGBTQ+ people and people of color. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court suspended the Fearless Fund’s grant program for Black women, representing an overall surge in attacks on racial, LGBTQ+, and social justice-focused grantors, foundations, and nonprofits. Black trans women experience violence and murder at a disproportionate and devastating rate. And with June comes too the specter of Supreme Court rulings that impact our ability to access abortion and other forms of health care, employment, and education.

While we are hurting, we are also building new pathways of care.

As Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice wrote, “Across time and place, and amid grueling violence, trans people love and care for our own.”

When I think of Pride month, I think of audacious queer joy. I think of the profound ties we create with one another when homophobia and transphobia cuts too many off from their families of origin and curtails our own access to traditional family-building. I think of creativity and brilliance — an insistence to imagine the world not as it is but as it can be.

The LGBTQ+ movement is a living, beautiful thing. As fundraisers, we have much to learn from it.

From GoFundMes that help trans people access necessary health care to queer fundraisers that include not only a dance floor but also job fairs, name change clinics, and clothing swaps, our community reminds me that fundraising can and should be joyful, heart-first, and relationship-centered.

One such example is GLITS’s million-dollar grassroots fundraiser to secure housing for Black trans New Yorkers. With the leadership of the organization’s executive director, Ceyenne Doroshow, the fundraiser was so successful that the organization could purchase a 12-unit apartment land trust. GLITS is currently running its second million-dollar fundraiser to secure emergency housing, employment preparation, wellness, and harm reduction — addressing critical gaps in support systems for transgender people of color. These campaigns model innovative and relationship-first fundraising practices. GLITS connects collective care and funding with the political — on Sunday, June 23, the group co-hosted a Pride rally opposing NYC’s budget cuts to libraries, HIV/AIDS programs, nurses, and schools.

The Kentucky Health Justice Network facilitates access to abortion, gender-affirming care, and other trans health services. By supporting Kentuckians’ ability to get health care that is increasingly surveilled, criminalized, or banned, KHJN and other abortion funds show how our communities support each other in the face of systematic failure. Their Shrek-themed peer-to-peer fundraising “Gay-la” this spring featured drag performances and dancing, raising over $30,000 in grassroots giving to support people facing barriers to abortion and trans care.

We work to build a world where LGBTQ+ people have equitable access to the resources we all need to thrive — employment, housing, health care, strong social ties, and lives free from violence. We celebrate the leaders mobilizing resources for our collective wellbeing even in the face of systematic neglect.

This pride month, I encourage you to learn more about your local LGBTQ+ community leaders. I invite you to learn from LGBTQ+ visionaries in philanthropy past and present. In particular, I think of two of our recent ancestors, Urvashi Vaid and Cecilia Gentilli. Urvashi Vaid, who led the National LGBTQ Task Force, co-founded the first large-scale research study of high-net-worth donors of color. Cecilia Gentilli, a leader in trans justice, LGBTQ+ health, and immigration justice, helped establish the Lorena Borjas Trans Equity Fund, funneling millions annually to support LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

LGBTQ+ organizers innovate fundraising practices that center justice, healing, and joy. I hope you will join me in celebrating these creative acts of future-building and be a part of the groundswell of everyday people working to co-create caring, resilient communities.

Author Information

Madeleine DuranteMadeleine Durante (she/they) is a resource mobilizer for social justice. As Director of Donor Retention & Direct Response at MoveOn, the nation’s largest independent progressive advocacy group, Madeleine leads retention and multichannel fundraising. Prior to MoveOn, Madeleine worked in direct response and midlevel fundraising for Planned Parenthood’s national office, and served as co-chair of their LGBTQ employee resource group. She is a board alumni and volunteers with the New York Abortion Access Fund, and received AFP-Global’s 2024 Outstanding Young Professional Award.

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