LGBTQ+ Index from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy provides a baseline for understanding the LGBTQ+ charitable giving landscape
Just ahead of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, new research looks at charitable giving to U.S. nonprofit organizations that primarily serve the LGBTQ+ community. A new LGBTQ+ Index and research report released today by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI shows philanthropic support for LGBTQ+ organizations accounted for 0.13% of total U.S. charitable giving in 2019, the latest year for which data are available.
The LGBTQ+ Index, made possible through anchor funding from Google.org, is the most comprehensive measure of philanthropic support for LGBTQ+ organizations from individuals, foundations, and corporations in the U.S. and provides a baseline for helping practitioners, policymakers, funders, journalists and scholars better understand giving to this under-resourced group. The Index includes nonprofits active from 2012 to 2019; the report focuses on the years 2015-2019.
LGBTQ+ organizations received approximately $560 million in philanthropic support in 2019, just 0.13% of overall charitable giving that year, which was estimated to be over $426 billion, according to Giving USA 2022*. However, the rate of growth in philanthropic support for LGBTQ+ organizations was nearly double that of non-LGBTQ+ organizations (46.3% and 24.9%, respectively) from 2015 to 2019.
“We are pleased to launch the inaugural LGBTQ+ Index as part of our school's commitment to better understanding charitable giving to under-served communities,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and International Programs at the school. “The Index provides groundbreaking insights that enable people and organizations in the LGBTQ+ community to see themselves in charitable giving data. This new research shows that LGBTQ+ organizations are operating with relatively low levels of philanthropic support and other financial resources while still achieving powerful results for the diverse communities they serve.”
Giving to LGBTQ+ organizations grew at a particularly strong rate in 2017 (11.7%) and 2018 (12.2%), which corresponds with documented growth in giving to LGBTQ+ causes following the 2016 presidential election. Among LGBTQ+ organizations, civil rights and advocacy are key focus areas. Over half of philanthropic support for LGBTQ+ organizations goes to those whose missions include civil rights and advocacy (52.9%). Transgender-specific organizations saw especially strong growth in giving in recent years, increasing by nearly 200% between 2015 and 2019.
“The LGBTQ+ Index adds important knowledge and resources about gaps in philanthropy for the community. Only by understanding current trends fully can we hope for true equity in support,” said Philip Yeo from Google.org. “The Index provides actionable tools for individuals and organizations seeking to support the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a baseline for future research. We’re very proud to be supporting this important work.”
The report also highlights the diverse and widespread nature of LGBTQ+ organizations – reflecting the varied interests and concerns of the LGBTQ+ community. These organizations appear in every nonprofit subsector (e.g., health, human services, arts), and each U.S. state has at least four LGBTQ+ organizations. The states with the largest number of these organizations are California (429), New York (243), Texas (171), Florida (170) and Illinois (107).
Although philanthropic support for LGBTQ+ organizations has grown in recent years, LGBTQ+ organizations are, on average, substantially smaller than non-LGBTQ+ organizations in terms of financial measures like revenue, expenses and assets. For example, LGBTQ+ organizations held an average of $0.73 million in assets in 2019, compared with an average of nearly $5 million in assets held by non-LGBTQ+ organizations.
The LGBTQ+ Index can be used by a variety of audiences. For example, leaders of LGBTQ+ organizations can use the research findings to advocate for greater financial support. Donors and funders can use the findings to inform funding strategies and search the Index database by keyword, focus area and geographic location to identify specific organizations to support. Scholars can use the downloadable list of organizations included in the Index to answer a range of questions about LGBTQ+ nonprofits and philanthropy.
Find the full database, report, infographic and case studies of LGBTQ+ organizations at http://www.EquitableGivingLab.org/LGBTQIndex. The Index will be updated annually.
*Giving USA 2022 is published by Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
About the LGBTQ+ Index
The LGBTQ+ Index is the newest index created as part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Equitable Giving Lab (EGL), which is funded by Google.org and brings an equity lens to philanthropy by measuring charitable giving to historically under-resourced groups. The LGBTQ+ Index is modeled after the Women & Girls Index, created in 2019 and updated annually by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.
The LGBTQ+ Index includes 501(c)(3) public charities primarily dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community that were active from 2012 to 2019—the most recent year for which more than 99% of finalized IRS data on charitable organizations were available as of December 2022. The analyses in the report focus on the most recent five-year period from 2015 to 2019. For details on the data sources and process used in developing the Index, please see the Methodology section of the report or the LGBTQ+ Index homepage.
About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its undergraduate, graduate, certificate and professional development programs, its research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram and “Like” us on Facebook.