• Impact Austin

Think Differently: Insights on LGBTQ+ Equity in Philanthropy

Contributed by Impact Austin's DEIB Committee


On October 15, Impact Austin concluded our three-part Equity webinar series. The first session explored Equity in the Disability World, while the second considered Generational Biases. This last segment, INSIGHTS ON LGBTQ+ EQUITY IN PHILANTHROPY, gathered three dynamic panelists. Full biographies of each are featured in our introductory blog. You can watch the recorded webinar here.

Executive Director Christina Gorczynski (she/her/hers) launched the webinar by establishing common ground terminology and examples that helped level set the session for the audience to alleviate any confusion around purpose or use of pronouns. Ryn added additional contributions by explaining the interconnected definitions that often cause confusion.

  • Assigned sex at birth: Who your genitals said you MIGHT be

  • Sexual orientation: Who you want to go to bed WITH

  • Gender identity: Who you go to bed AS, internal

  • Gender expression: Who you want be PERCEIVED as in world


In this session, the panelists challenged members to think differently about grantmaking, especially around allowing a focus on lived experiences and not solely using data. Each panelist highlighted the need to remove bias for grant funding and to consider general operating costs where waitlists exist for services versus the shiny new programs.


When asked to discuss the top issues within Central Texas impacting the LGTBQ+ community, Tarik cited “give to mental wellness services” including therapy, support groups, and counseling. Priscilla added that “Racism and systemic racism impact the social determinants of health” and that "everything must come from a racial justice lens." Ryn shared that in the recently released Quality of Life Study by the City of Austin, “the biggest issue entrenched in community was lack of access to black queer people.”


Typically, there are many issues facing the Central Texas community. Each panelist commented on the diversity and intersectionality within the community. Priscilla opened this question with stressing the importance of language and our words. We should use communities vs. community, as an example. She also highlighted that we should be viewing communities from all diversity angles: age, racial, immigrant, trans, etc. "If we take care of everyone who is marginalized, everyone wins." Tarik emphasized that our populations aren’t all the same and that we must look at it from this perspective. "There is no one size fits all."


Often, we don’t know what to say, as there is a fear in offending someone. There was great discussion around the idea of a "homogeneous table," and who is - or is not - "at the table." We should be asking questions like, “Why weren’t they at the table in the first place?" Consider the invitation list, because "who wants to 'join the party' late?" And, finally, "Should we be the ones setting the table?” Priscilla says it makes you look at yourself. Her advice: “Be Open”. Ryn added “Be prepared to be offended. If you are offended, you are doing it right”. Tarik commented, "There is no quick fix. Inequity will continue to show up; we must be in it for the long haul. Reset the table."


As we think differently moving forward and applying a deeper equity lens to grantmaking, the panel shared that where we see duplicated services in our communities, this may not be reality. It’s important to understand this so that our investments are wisely made. An example of this would be that a grant to a gay nonprofit may not necessarily meet the needs of Trans Youth. Impact Austin was urged to reconsider our grantmaking practices: include diverse non-members with lived experiences on our Grant Review Committees; reassess the work asked of applicants, particularly small nonprofits who can't afford to put time into a process where they're unlikely to be funded; make obvious what we will not fund; value operating support as much or more than the desire to fund something new. "Show up differently for the people you're trying to benefit."


To conclude the session, Ryn gave a call to action for members to go and read the recently released Quality of Life Study completed by the City of Austin.


View the full event recording: