Meet The Top 10 Foundations Giving to LGBT Causes

Some organizations have been throwing tens of millions of dollars at the LGBT community — least we can do is learn a little about them.

In 2010, $72.6 in global philanthropy reached the doorsteps of LGBT people, figuratively speaking. That’s out of a total $1.2 billion of worldwide philanthropy, as reported by a new study from the Foundation Center. The Center was established in 1956 and claims to “maintain the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grant makers and their grants.” It partnered with The International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) — a global network of donors and grant makers — for the June study, “the first research report of its kind.”

So over $70 million went to the LGBT community, but how does that break down? Well, looking at the LGBT-focused segment of the report yields some interesting data, like the fact that the top contributor in 2010 is the Arcus Foundation, which, on top of dedicating itself to LGBT issues, its second and equal priority is “to conserve and protect the great apes.” Arcus gave $14.6 million. Second place goes to the Gill Foundation, which came out at an even $10 million. Sixth place goes to the Ford Foundation, which in late July hired openly gay Darren Walker as its new president — it gave $4 million.

"The landscape of human rights funding is exceedingly complex, but initiatives like this bring into sharp relief just how vibrant and diverse the field is," said Michael Hirschhorn, executive director of IHRFG, in a statement. "The lasting value of this research — the thing that will take us beyond ‘painting landscapes’ to propelling greater engagement — comes when grant makers are moved to contribute data, provide feedback, share findings with peers, and use this information in support of their work."

So without further adieu, meet your top ten 2010 funders...

Arcus Foundation, $14.6 million

Been Around Since: 2000

Founded By: Jon Stryker

Arcus focuses on LGBT issues and conserving and protecting the great apes. It’s got offices from Kalamazoo, Mich. to Cambridge in the UK. You can see Annette Lanjouw, Arcus’s vice president of strategic initiatives and great ape programs, talk about the group’s focus, at

In 2012 alone, Arcus gave out over $18 million in grants toward its initiatives, more than $8 million of which went toward programs involving social justice.

Learn more at

Gill Foundation, $10 million

Been Around Since: 1994

Founded By: Tim Gill

Tim Gill is the guy who changed the way magazines and newspaper design their pages when he designed Quark, the software that would evolve into the newsrooms and publishing houses of almost all publications around the country (and world).

Since its inception, the foundation has given more the $220 million to LGBT groups and toward LGBT issues (an estimated 80 percent goes straight to the hands of nonprofits).

Learn more at

Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, $6.1 million

Been Around Since: 1997

Founded By: The Vanguard Group, Inc.

This one’s a doozy. More than $4 billion in grants since its inception (and it’s still got just under $3 billion in its coffers). It’s a charitable arm of an investment firm and ranks in the top 25 foundations in the country — it also claims to give money in every state and “almost” every country.

They made claim to this list without even focusing on LGBT issues, their grants going to programs focused on anything from religion to environmental issues.

Learn more at

Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, $5.9 million

Been Around Since: 1953

Founded By: Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr.

Probably the oldest group on the list. The California foundation’s given more than $440 million since it was founded. While LGBT issues are a mainstay for the foundation, it shares priority with immigrant rights and education equity issues.

The foundation recognizes that marriage isn’t the only measure where equality is needed for LGBT people, and lists its other points of focus on the page linked below.

Learn more at

Open Society Foundations, $4.2 million

Been Around Since: 1979

Founded By: George Soros

“Open society is based on the recognition that our understanding of the world is inherently imperfect,” George Soros said at some point, according to the Open Society Foundations website. “What is imperfect can be improved.” His first priority was setting up scholarships for black students abroad.

Out of more than $10 billion that OSF has plugged into issue advocacy, $626 million has gone toward health issues (including HIV) and $2.4 has gone toward human rights, including LGBT issues.

Learn more at

Ford Foundation, $4 million

Been Around Since: 1936

Founded By: Edsel Ford (Henry Ford’s daughter)

Headquartered in New York City, the Ford Foundation makes grants in all 50 states and, through 10 regional offices around the world, supports programs in more than 50 countries.

It is the second largest private foundation in the U.S. with an endowment of $10 billion. It’s also not entirely focused on LGBT issues, lending itself to dozens of different issues across the world.

Learn more at

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, $3.6 million

Been Around Since: 1977

Founded By: “A small group of multi-racial, multi-class women”

Claiming to be “the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe,” Astraea focuses on lesbian- and trans-led initiative and programs, but readily advances rights across the board.

In 2012 alone, Astraea gave over $1.3 million to 113 groups and 16 individuals across the world.

Learn more at

Proteus Fund, $3.4 million

Been Around Since: 1995

Founded By: Meg Gage

The Protesus project, started in 2004, attempts to win over state by state by giving out $2 million annually to initiatives in “public education, research, polling, message development, alliance building, outreach and advocacy in support of marriage equality.”

With its Civil Marriage Collaborative, Proteus has given out around $1.62 million in 2013 alone (as of press time).

Learn more at

Tides Foundation, $2.1 million

Been Around Since: 1976

Founded By: Drummond Pike

This one’s got some poetry behind its name. “Tides are a clean, efficient and sustainable source of energy. Tides connect us around the world. And tides are constantly changing the landscape around us. The "Tides" name comes from a Bay Area independent bookstore that once served as a meeting place for readers, writers and activists.”

From grant making to consulting to advocacy, Tides does much more than fund change, it is change.

Learn more at

American Jewish World Service–Donor Advised Fund, $1.9 million

Been Around Since: 1985

Founded By: Larry Phillips and Larry Simon

“Pursuing justice is a Jewish obligation,” according to president Ruth Messinger. Interestingly, the groups high five people who support LGBT issues, like the unlikely rabbis who do.

From advocacy and educating to sending people to help in other countries, AJWS claims it’s given almost 90 percent of its grants to programs, and just above six percent to administration.

Learn more at Long