Each year during June, we celebrate Pride Month. Often marked by a colorful array of rainbow flags and social media content, Pride Month celebrates the history of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community, its resilience, and continued fight for equality.
Pride also provides a great opportunity for nonprofit organizations to evaluate how they both engage and serve the LGBTQ+ community. Not only during June but year-round!
As your organization seeks to represent the diverse cross-spectrum of our society and the communities you serve, it’s important to ensure your donor base reflects that diversity. Providing increased support from donors who are members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies requires organizations to make their fundraising efforts and donor experience fully inclusive.
Lipton Strategies is a boutique, strategic consulting firm and proudly LGBTQ+-owned! For Pride Month, we share our top 5 suggestions for how your organization can create a more inclusive donor experience for LGBTQ+ individuals:
#1 Connect with the community you are trying to engage 🧩
Take the time to talk and meet with leaders, staff, volunteers, and donors from the LGBTQ+ community. Rather than make assumptions based on identity proxies, these individuals will help you understand what they care about, their passions, and how your organization intersects with their lives. Not only will it help strengthen your organization, but you will have the opportunity to connect with new leaders for your organization, learn their perspectives, and hear their stories to understand why equality is so important.
#2: Use inclusive communication strategies and language 📝
Instead of using traditional gendered labels, consider using gender-neutral language. For example, substitute ‘Chairman’ or ‘Chairwoman’ for ‘Chair’ or ‘Chairperson.’ To ensure gender-neutral language is used both with the organization and with donors, it is important to provide regular updates and check-ins with staff and volunteers to encourage inclusive language and practices become part of the organization’s culture.
Another key place to include gender-neutral language is on external communications and forms. Make edits to your donation forms, surveys, newsletters, and direct mail to use neutral language that allows everyone to be included. Instead of using Mr. or Mrs., consider using an individual’s first name or provide them the opportunity to select their own pronouns.
#3: Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion internally 🌈
You may also want to survey your employees about how they perceive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at your organization and whether they think the organization is ready to focus on diverse supporters. The Philanthropic Closet: LGBTQ People in Philanthropy highlights gay, lesbian, and bisexual people make up 16.2% of the staff and board at participating foundations. Transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people account for 2% of the staff and board at participating foundations**.**
Ensure your organization’s top leaders — not just its lower ranks — reflect the diverse community of people you want to reach. They need a seat at the table, so their ideas are heard, and your organization must be willing to change traditional approaches that may not be inclusive.
#4: Make a long-term commitment to this work 🤝
Just as the LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for and commit to building a more inclusive society, your organization must do the same. Having their best interest isn’t a once-a-year effort during Pride Month; it requires work 356 days a year. Make sure your leadership are kept apprised of important happenings within the LGBTQ+ community and consider subscribing to updates from LGBTQ+ news sources and organizations to hear directly from the voice of the community.
As the LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for full equality, consider what actions your organization can take both locally and nationally to effectively demonstrate your support and stand in solidarity with the community. Some examples include volunteer service days with local LGBTQ+ organizations, evaluating internal HR practices, and supporting legislation like the Equality Act.
If your organization needs additional help establishing a long-term commitment, consider hiring outside experts to support your organization in a continuous and authentic way.
#5: Build trust 💛
When meeting with prospective donors, show you understand and are genuinely interested in the LGBTQ+ community and culture. Make sure to ask thoughtful and specific questions to demonstrate that you care, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or say there is something you don't know.
Ensuring your acknowledgment and recognition processes are appropriate and display cultural sensitivity will show your donors that you respect them. Honesty and authenticity are the best way to develop trust!
These are just a few tips to help your organization build a more inclusive donor experience. There continue to be great milestones, but the work is not finished. The LGBTQ+ community and allies will continue to fight and demonstrate resilience in pursuit of full equality.
As a proud Givebutter Verified Partner, we wish you a Happy Pride Month!
If your organization needs help developing an LGBTQ+ inclusive strategy, connect with our team for a free consultation at [email protected].
Jonathan Lipton is the Founder + Principal of Lipton Strategies. A passionate change agent, he is committed to partnering with clients to foster long-term growth and success. Jonathan has worked across the country in the nonprofit, social, political, and public sectors, and brings extensive experience directing major fundraising campaigns.