Four questions to ask yourself before launching a crisis fundraising campaign

When humanitarian crisis hits, it’s not surprising that people want to help the best way they can. LGBTI activists’ organisations are often at the forefront, often with fundraising campaigns, but sometimes this response can cause more harm than good. Here’s why.

Sadly, the past few years in our world have been marked by major crises, be it the COVID pandemic, war, conflict, natural disasters or violent crackdowns. LGBTI communities are often impacted by crises in specific ways, as we’ve seen in our Annual Review, for example through exclusion and lack of safety in shelters, difficulty in accessing hormones and medications via mainstream humanitarian responses, and being specifically targeted and scapegoated.

During times of emergency, we often see people responding with generosity. Donating is a simple, easy and constructive way of showing solidarity in response to crisis or hostile developments. We saw a wave of generosity in 2017, for example, in response to purge of LGBTI people in Chechnya, or over the past year in support of LGBTI people caught up in the war in Ukraine.

As people ask themselves, ‘How can I help?’, it’s understandable that LGBTI organisations see opportunities to set up fundraising campaigns, whether for their own needs or in support of others. But to raise money responsibly and without causing harm, there are some questions we should ask ourselves beforehand.

Humanitarian organisations with long experience of providing aid can jump into action immediately in the face of any crisis, but for organisations focused primarily on advancing LGBTI people’s rights it’s helpful to pause and think through a few key questions.

Should you be fundraising publicly?

Fundraising can be a constructive response and meet real needs, but it’s not necessarily always the right response. Before going ahead with launching a fundraising campaign on social media and other public platforms, or sharing an appeal of others, ask yourself what your role in this situation should be and whether you have enough information about what kind of support is most helpful in this situation at this moment. Though always well intended, sometimes a fundraising campaign might not be the best response if the attention could potentially put LGBTI communities at risk, or if LGBTI activists in the affected region don’t have the capacity to provide humanitarian support to their communities.   

Do you know what the needs are?

If you’re fundraising for your own community, it will of course be easier to assess needs and risks and how you can best use donations. But if you’re fundraising in solidarity with communities in another country, or sharing a fundraiser started by others, it’s especially important to assess LGBTI people specific needs. Is a fundraising ask coming from the local LGBTI movement, and from recognised and trusted groups? Do you know who to speak with to learn about needs?

You’ll need to decide whether you’ll collect funds and disburse them yourself, share a fundraising appeal by other group(s), or invite donations directly to local groups on the ground. Whichever the route, it’s important to consider who is the ultimate recipient of the funds, whether they’re happy for you to fundraise on their behalf, and whether they’re able to handle the funds.

Here, it’s also important to be able to communicate to donors as accurately and clearly as possible, for transparency and trust. Of course, specific needs will not always be clear immediately, but you should be able to give donors a sense of where their money is going, and what happens if needs change or end.

A positive example of communicating about needs is Lambda Warsawa, who set up a successful fundraiser to support LGBTI refugees arriving from Ukraine, conveying both a sense of urgency and outlining concretely how money is spent on activities such as renting a shelter, setting up a support group and preparing sandwiches to hand out to new arrivals at the central railway station.  

In Slovenia, eight LGBTI organisations came together to raise funds to support trans people in shelters in Western Ukraine, while COC Netherlands launched a fundraiser in support of LGBTI communities in Ukraine, raising money for local organisations on the ground and providing regular updates about amounts raised and where the money has been sent.

What are the risks?

An LGBTI specific fundraising ask may be perceived as jumping on the bandwagon. At worst it can be seen as profiteering from crisis, leading to backlash. If the decision is to fundraise publicly, how you communicate about needs (as described above) is important in avoiding these risks. If you are raising money in solidarity with others, it’s paramount to consider whether there are risks related to LGBTI groups receiving money and whether publicity could lead to them being targeted.

What’s your message and how will it be perceived?

To avoid risks and to foster trust, how you frame your fundraising message is vital.

While it’s real stories that compel people to give, it’s important not to victimise the beneficiaries you are fundraising for, or sensationalise their circumstances. Instead, give affected community members an active voice, as did LGBT Asylum in Denmark, who asked a former beneficiary of their services to talk about how the organisation had helped him as they prepared to welcome LGBTI refugees from Ukraine. Or the Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK who highlighted stories of young people their services have helped as part of their Winter Pathways emergency fundraising appeal to raise money in response to the cost of living crisis.

Be mindful of how your potential donors will be feeling, and avoid triggering further anxiety or distress, or pressure into giving. For example, in 2020, when Polish organisation Fundusz dla Odmiany set up a successful fundraising campaign in response to violent crackdown on peaceful protests in Warsaw, they took the decision to avoid using images of the consequences of the most severe police violence.

Do you want to know more? Here is some further reading

Fundraising during an Emergency, by Daniel Fluskey, Director of Policy at the UK Chartered Institute of Fundraising  

The Fundraising section of ILGA-Europe’s free resource centre, The Hub

It Shows that People Care – LGBTI organisations fundraising from individuals in Europe and Central Asia

SOFII – Crisis Fundraising

See also

Report

EU Enlargement Review 2024

ILGA-Europe together with ERA – the LGBTI Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey, presents this LGBTI Enlargement Review 2024 assessing gaps in legislation […]
read more
Blog

Ukraine, LGBTI rights and joining the EU

Last year, Ukraine became a candidate country to join the European Union. But the country’s lack of LGBTI rights threatens to hinder the process As […]
read more
Press Release

Giving hope comes with responsibility to us, say activists from new EU enlargement countries

Today, LGBTI activists from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia met with EU representatives in Brussels to explain serious challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex […]
read more
Blog

The ways we’re working with private companies this Pride season

This year, as we do every year, ILGA-Europe have worked with private companies who wish to support our work. But we don’t take every offer that comes our way. Here’s they why, how and what when it comes to partnering with corporates to enhance our vital work with activist organisations across Europe!
read more
Blog

The European Equality Fundraiser 2023: Photo Essay

Our Equality Fundraiser on June 29 was an evening of unity, reflection and celebration of the power of activism as over 200 participants gathered in Brussels to support LGBTI rights in Europe and Central Asia. Petra De Sutter, Belgium’s Vice Prime Minister, was the guest of honour. Drag artist Mocca Bonè, the Mow Quartet and DJ Eliana brought the entertainment, and the focus was on how everyone can play their part in ensuring equality amid the current backlash on LGBTI rights and lives.
read more
Blog

LGBTI Fundraising Campaigns 101: The 5 crucial elements to raise funds effectively

Do you want to start a fundraising campaign for your LGBTI organisation but are unsure of where to begin? We got you. In today’s blog we bring you the main learnings from our latest Skills Boost session, case studies and examples of the work done by participants.
read more
Report

EU Enlargement Review 2023

ILGA-Europe has worked with ERA – LGBTI Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey, to produce our annual LGBTI Enlargement Review, assessing gaps in […]
read more
News

Statement of Solidarity with the LGBTQI Community in Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Today, we commemorate the year of resilience and bravery of the Ukrainian people fighting against this aggression, supporting […]
read more
Blog

How we’re supporting LGBTI activists and organisations one year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine

On 24 February 2022, Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, leading to the largest armed conflict in Europe since the Second World War. […]
read more
Blog

Activists on Accession to the EU

Although achieving EU membership can take several years, even decades, the accession process can already have a positive impact in LGBTI people in a candidate country. We speak to activists in the latest candidates, Ukraine and Moldova, and from Montenegro, which has been a candidate since 2010.
read more
Podcast

The Frontline: LGBTI Equality and Accession to The EU

In this two-part episode of The Frontline podcast, presented by Belinda Dear, we’re looking at the new wave of accession to the European Union and […]
read more
Blog

Why our Equality Fundraiser was an essential moment of queer solidarity

After two years of not being able to be together in person, our friends and allies joined us for an evening of solidarity this year, with all funds raised going directly to organisations helping LGBTI people affected by the war in Ukraine. Here’s why we need support more than ever.
read more
Report

Briefing Note: Securing access to border crossings for vulnerable LGBTI people in the context of the war in Ukraine

LGBTI people in the context of the war in Ukraine, like everyone, have many reasons to stay in Ukraine or to leave the country. Like […]
read more
Blog

The United Nations has identified LGBTI people as a group specifically affected by the war in Ukraine

Working alongside ILGA-Europe, the UN High Commissioner for Refugee has published recommendations for humanitarian actors working with LGBTI people affected by the war in Ukraine.
read more
Blog

6 tips for LGBTI organisations partnering alongside a business in Pride season

How businesses engage with LGBTI inclusion has changed enormously in the last decade. Today, more businesses actively seek to work together with civil society organisations, while these may find new allies in the private sector. If you are part of an LGBTI group and are considering to collaborate with companies as Pride season kicks off, this blog and our Frontline podcast mini-series are for you.
read more
News

Joint committment to LGBTI people in and fleeing Ukraine

On May 17, UNAIDS and ILGA-Europe co-hosted an event to mark IDAHOBIT. Panellists addressed the existing gaps within the humanitarian response in the context of the war in Ukraine, and concluded with recommendations and commitment to better protect the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people staying in Ukraine or who have left.
read more
Report

Integrating LGBTI inclusive Gender Based Violence risk prevention, reduction and mitigation in the context of war in Ukraine

The ongoing war in Ukraine has resulted in the need for immediate action to address the needs both of a significant population of Ukrainians fleeing […]
read more
Blog

Keeping LGBTI people safe as the war in Ukraine continues

To mark IDAHOBIT on May 17, ILGA-Europe and UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, will host an event focusing on the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in and from Ukraine. Here, our Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis speaks to UNAIDS about the particular challenges facing LGBTIQ+ people caught up in war.
read more
News

IDAHOBIT 2022: Rights of LGBTQI+ people in and from Ukraine

On the occasion of IDAHOBIT, ilga-eUROPE and UNAIDS are hosting an event focusing on the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in and from Ukraine.
read more
Blog

#LesbianVisibilityWeek: The situation for lesbian women in and from Ukraine

Like all members of the LGBTI community who have either remained in Ukraine, or are on the move to a safer place, lesbians are facing specific challenges and needs. This Lesbian Visibility Week, we’re learning more.
read more
Blog

#UkraineLGBTI Update: LGBTI shelters need urgent support, medication continues to be a major issue and more

Here’s our latest update on what’s happening for LGBTI people either staying in or fleeing Ukraine, the ways we’re working to help, and how you can urgently help too.
read more
Report

Briefing Note: Ukraine war: Temporary protection and LGBTI people in EU member states

read more
Report

Briefing Document: Ukraine war – Medications needed by trans and intersex people

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has resulted in need for immediate action to address the needs both of a significant population of Ukrainians fleeing the […]
read more
News

Contacts if you are an LGBTI person fleeing Ukraine

If you are LGBTI who fled the war and need help, this is who you can contact Belgium: Rainbow House Brussels: http://rainbowhouse.be/en/about-us/ Czechia: Email hotline: help@praguepride.com Czech […]
read more
Blog

Trans Day of Visibility 2022: Here’s what you absolutely should know about trans communities from Ukraine

It’s March 31, Trans Day of Visibility. To mark this day, at ILGA-Europe we want to commend the amazing work trans-led organisations are doing as the war in Ukraine continues, and tell you about the current needs of trans communities staying or leaving the country.
read more
Blog

‘#UkraineLGBTI: Information, Action, Direction

The war is not going to be a short-term situation for vulnerable people in Ukraine, Russia, and countries in Europe and Central Asia that are and will be hosting displaced people. To support the work of LGBTI activists and organisations in Ukraine, Russia and other affected countries as the war of Putin continues, ILGA-Europe has developed a three-part plan.
read more
Report

Five easy things humanitarian aid actors should do to ensure LGBTI refugees of war are not left behind

The ongoing war in Ukraine has resulted in the need for immediate action to address the needs both of a significant population of Ukrainians fleeing […]
read more
Podcast

The frontline: LGBTI People and the War in Ukraine

At ILGA-Europe we recognise that the war is not going to be a short-term situation for vulnerable people in Ukraine, Russia, neighbouring countries, and all […]
read more
Report

Briefing Document: Ukraine war – LGBTI People in the context of armed conflict and mass displacement

The ongoing war in Ukraine has resulted in need for immediate action to address the needs both of a significant population of Ukrainians fleeing the […]
read more
Blog

A Marathon, not a sprint: how we’re responding to the invasion of Ukraine

In the past week, since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the global response has been massive, alongside a great number of organisations working with […]
read more