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Giving Back

12 pro-LGBTQ causes to consider this holiday season

By Dawn Ennis

If you thought it was hard to find the right present for the LGBTQ person in your life who has everything, brace yourself for Holiday Season 2020. The COVID-19 era has made exchanging holiday gifts more complicated than ever.

Sure, there are countless, contactless ways to show your affection for lovers, family, friends, and their pets. But watching them tear open a cardboard box on FaceTime or Zoom? It’s just not the same.

Instead, send that special someone a generous gift that won’t require a visit from UPS, and one that benefits and advances the efforts of our community’s better angels.

The people working to support the LGBTQ community and to protect and advance our rights say they need to be on our holiday gift-giving lists. Your donation in the names of your loved ones will show you care in a way that a new doodad never will.

Here are a dozen options for charitable giving to LGBTQ-supporting organizations, far and near:

PFLAG

The pandemic has mutated, into The Grinch, it seems. Mark Pixley, the new president of PFLAG Hartford, concedes that his view of the organization’s coffers is grim.

“That has changed, with COVID. We have seen a decrease in donations,” he says. Pixley and his wife have a 22-year-old transgender son who came out in his early teens.

“PFLAG was a key part of that, actually, and that’s why I’m still involved with the organization,” Pixley says. “When he came out to my wife and to me as trans, we’re like, ‘Well, what does that even mean?’ And so we went to PFLAG and we were able to meet people who are trans, because we didn’t know any openly trans people. And we met people who had already gone through it as parents, and it really was a huge help, just knowing that there are others out there, that we’re not going through it alone.”

The national organization has 400 chapters in communities across the U.S., including Hartford, Norwalk, Waterbury, and Southeastern Connecticut. PFLAG Hartford is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, but its financial data is hidden behind a paywall. The national PFLAG has a rating of 3 out of 4 stars from Charity Navigator and a liabilities-to-assets ratio of 9.6%. According to GuideStar, PFLAG National’s balance sheet shows net assets of $2.8 million, and its revenue of almost $5 million – including $2.2 million from contributions, grants and gifts – far outpace its expenses.

Tax-deductible donations can be made here.


TRUE COLORS

“Adapting to the current moment for us takes resources,” True Colors executive director Patrick Comerford says. “Technology, time, staffing, advertising – they are all in demand, as we work to make sure we’re able to deliver on our mission in new and creative ways. We’re relying on our community to be the heroes and help us make sure that LGBTQ+ youth know that they matter.”

Comerford says donations to True Colors helps ensure the creation of “learning and training spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and the people entrusted to care and support them across Connecticut, including young people in GSAs, teachers in development trainings, and professionals who work with LGBTQ+ youth.”

Donations support the True Colors mentoring program and ensure there’s sufficient staff to answer the more than 1,000 calls True Colors gets every year from youth, adults, and professionals looking for support, information, and resources.

“Last year, we reached over 12,000 people in communities across Connecticut and New England through our programming,” says Comerford.

True Colors is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization based in Hartford and has a Charity Navigator Encompass rating of 100 out of 100, with a liabilities-to-assets ratio of 5.74%. According to GuideStar, its 2019 balance sheet shows net assets of $233,000 but its expenses outpace its revenue from contributions, grants, and gifts by almost $20,000.

Tax-deductible donations can be made here.


GLSEN

GLSEN Connecticut works to champion LGBTQ issues in K-12 education and support LGBTQ youth in our region so that they can thrive in school and in their communities.

GLSEN Connecticut is part of a network of 43 chapters across 30 states and is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. This chapter’s financial information is hidden behind a paywall. The national organization has a Charity Navigator rating of 3 out of 4 stars and a liabilities-to-assets ratio of 28%. According to GuideStar, the balance sheet for GLSEN’s national office shows net assets of $4.7 million; its revenue of $6.8 million including contributions, grants and gifts outpaces its expenses by a cushion of $230,000.

Tax-deductible donations, starting at $3, can be made by visiting their website and clicking “Donate to our chapter.”


AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION (ACLU)

The Connecticut chapter of the ACLU calls itself “the premier advocate for civil rights and individual liberty in the Constitution State,” and receives no federal funding to operate. “To defend the Constitution and keep America safe and free, we need the support of every Connecticut resident who cares about protecting civil liberties,” according to the ACLU of Connecticut’s website.

The ACLU of Connecticut is both a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. The organization has a Charity Navigator Encompass rating of 75 out of 100, and a liabilities-to-assets ratio of just 1.11%.

Tax-deductible donations, starting at $5, as well as gifts of stock and tribute gifts, can be made here.


CABO FOUNDATION aka CTGLC FOUNDATION

The CABO Foundation has awarded more than $12,000 in scholarships over six years to Connecticut high school seniors who are LGBTQ as well as allied youth making a difference in our community. According to its website, 100% of donations goes to the scholarship fund.

The CABO Foundation, based in Wallingford, is undergoing a name change to CTGLC Foundation, in its partnership with the CTGLC, the Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. As of press time, the organization was in the process of registering to become a 501(c)(3) under its new name. It is currently accepting donations through the Community Foundation, so tax deductions are tax deductible.

To learn more, visit their website.


KAMORA’S CULTURAL CORNER

Kamora Herrington of Hartford founded and operates Kamora’s Cultural Corner. The organization’s mission statement describes it as a “physical and metaphorical” space created to “approach cultural humility through a Black queer and Afrocentric perspective.”

However, as The Advocate magazine reported in August, the KCC lost its location in downtown Hartford because of the pandemic. Herrington’s focus has been to support the work of queer Black artists to build community, and support advocacy as well as activism at the intersections of being Black and queer. She also offers something she calls “cultural humility training” on Zoom, to unpack difficult issues of race and privilege.

The KCC is decidedly and openly not a nonprofit. “We actively solicit sponsorships and donations,” Herrington explains on her website.

Those donations can be made through Patreon. “I just gave six artists $40 each,” Herrington says. “We also paid for a local queer artist, whose income has been greatly reduced due to COVID, to move to a more affordable apartment (U-HAUL, movers and pizza). Last month, we bought art supplies (canvases, paint, brushes) for artists who then created art that they’ve sold at our weekly bazaar, allowing them to make money from their craft.”

Non-deductible donations, starting at $3 a month, can be made here.


PRIDE FUND TO END GUN VIOLENCE

“I served in the Army for 14 years as a gay man,” Iraq war veteran and Pride Fund founder Jason Lindsay says. “I have carried weapons; I’ve shot all kinds of them. And I carried an assault weapon on the streets of Baghdad.”

Four months after the Pulse massacre in Orlando, Fla. in June 2016, he decided he needed to do something.

“I stand firmly in my belief that the type and lethality of the weapon carried in Baghdad does not belong on the streets of America,” says Lindsay. He created this Political Action Committee because, “up until that point, there was no organization that was truly focusing on the LGBTQ community.”

Lindsay’s Pride Fund is dedicated to mobilizing the LGBTQ community and our allies, fundraising for pro-LGBTQ candidates who support gun policy reforms, and speaking out against senseless gun tragedies.

Pride Fund to End Gun Violence is a Political Action Committee, or PAC, based in Washington, D.C. According to public records, Lindsay raised $70,000 and had operating expenditures of $67,000 from January 2019 until June of 2020, the four-year-anniversary of the murders at the Pulse nightclub.

Donations can be made online here


TRANS LIFELINE

More than a suicide hotline, Trans Lifeline bills itself as a trans-led national organization dedicated to improving the quality of transgender individuals’ lives, by responding to their critical needs with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education.

Trans Lifeline, based in Oakland, Calif., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Charity Navigator is withholding a rating because Trans Lifeline’s founders misspent funds from the organization from 2016-2017; those leaders subsequently were removed from the organization. An independent audit now shows all funds accounted for. At press time, Trans Lifeline leaders were finalizing their 2019 IRS form 990 to show no other misappropriation of funds. A spokesperson for Charity Navigator said it will reissue a positive rating for the organization once that form is filed. GuideStar’s report shows net assets exceeding $246,000 and revenue of more than $1.1 million from contributions, grants and gifts, exceeding liabilities by more than $300,000.

Donations can be made here.


LGBTQ Victory Institute

“When LGBTQ elected officials are in the room, it changes hearts and minds, influences policy debates, and leads to more inclusive legislation,” says Elliot Imse, senior director of communications for the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “That is why Victory Institute is building and supporting a pipeline of LGBTQ public leaders through its comprehensive programs. We train hundreds of LGBTQ people to run for office each year, support dozens of leadership interns and fellows, and provide elected officials with the resources and development training they need to succeed.”

So where does a gift to this organization go? “Your contribution determines the number of LGBTQ leaders we can support,” says Imse, “which will directly influence the number of LGBTQ elected officials in public office.”

And although it’s a national organization, Imse points out there is a Connecticut connection. “We have 10 out LGBTQ elected officials in Connecticut,” he says, most of whom work with the Victory Fund and its institute.

The LGBTQ Victory Institute, based in Washington, D.C., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit and has a rating of 3 out of 4 stars from Charity Navigator. Its liabilities-to-assets ratio is 80.5%. Net assets of $151,000 are just one example of The LGBTQ Victory Institute’s extraordinary need; its total revenue of $2.4 million, including $2.3 million in contributions, grants and gifts, is overshadowed by expenses of $2.6 million.

Donations can be made online here.


GLAAD

The national organization founded in 1985 does not have chapters, but its work on behalf of the LGBTQ community stretches far beyond its New York City headquarters to Washington, Hollywood, and all around the world. Its mission is to promote and ensure fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means to build a culture that embraces full acceptance.

So where does your money go if you donate to GLAAD? “It goes directly into our programs,” says spokesperson Barbara Simon, “to accelerate acceptance, and stand up for marginalized people, and be a voice for the community that’s loud and proud.”

Those programs include working with reporters on accuracy when it comes to telling the stories of the community, especially when lifting up voices of LGBTQ and queer people of color. “Representation is so important to understanding and acceptance,” Simon says.

This year, GLAAD’s Nick Adams produced and was featured in the groundbreaking documentary on Netflix, “Disclosure,” about trans representation in Hollywood. Last year, GLAAD’s Alex Schmider co-produced the documentary “Changing the Game,” which featured two trans female student athletes from Connecticut, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller.

GLAAD is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization based in New York. Its financial disclosure for 2019 shows net assets of $19.6 million and revenue, including $7 million in contributions outpacing expenses by just under $4 million. Charity Navigator gave GLAAD a stellar 4 out of 4 stars based on 2018 data (the most recent available) and a liabilities-to-assets ratio of 5.4%.

Donations can be made here.


EQUALITY FEDERATION INSTITUTE

“With your support, we’ll be able to continue our work to build the leaders of today and tomorrow, strengthen state-based LGBTQ organizations, and make critical progress on the issues that matter most,” says Equality Federation Institute’s director of communications, Jenn Curtin.

Which issues? “Protecting transgender people, ending HIV criminalization and ensuring access to care, and banning conversion therapy across the country,” she says. “By donating to Equality Federation, you’ll support the work that helps us win equality in the community you call home.”

Equality Federation Institute, based in Portland, Ore., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a Charity Navigator Encompass rating of 100 out of 100, and a liabilities-to-assets ratio of 25.44%.

Donations can be made here.


ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT (AVP)

The Anti-Violence Project, or AVP, was founded 40 years ago and is now the largest anti-LGBTQ violence organization in the U.S. Its mission is to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies, with the goal to end all forms of violence. The AVP is working to do that through organizing, education, and supporting survivors of violence through counseling and advocacy.

Formerly known as the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the AVP is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit, with a Charity Navigator rating of 89.1 out of 100. GuideStar shows revenue of $3.2 million, more than $1 million of which is from contributions, grants and gifts, and assets of more than $894,000. Expenses exceed $2.9 million, with liabilities totaling $574,000, leaving net assets of $321,000.

Donations can be made online here.


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