LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

We need to talk to you about funding for the movement…

LGBTI movement

Björn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe Programmes Director

Being a continent where Calvinism and communism has perhaps held us back in talking about money – we just can’t afford that any longer!

Questions around where resources go to have become ever more pertinent to me over the last few years.

Six years ago, the Global Philanthropy Project launched its first resource tracking report. The report collects data from funders to show how much funding goes to LGBTI activism. The results were staggering: over the period 2013/2014 the resources available for work in Europe were about one tenth of what the LGBTI movement in the USA has had at its disposition over the same time.

With $22m over two years, the European LGBTI movement was bringing about an incredible amount of change! Yet, I knew that many groups face significant amounts of time in getting just a little bit of resources to do their work. Sometimes getting money to carry out an activity or projects takes up more time than it takes to implement the actual activity or project.

Large donors often give huge amounts of money to big organisations. This is how mainstream organisations get to absorb a lot of funding that is earmarked as ‘LGBTI funding’.  Whilst big donors often want our work to be sustainable – they are choosing to fund groups or organisations that aren’t always part of the movement, or sometimes refuse to cover indirect costs that help organisations become more sustainable.

In addition, various funders over the past years have told us that they would or might be moving out of Europe. If Europe is not a place to stay for funders – then some activists could be left increasingly dependent on governments or institutions for funding - a source of revenue which can be unpredictable (or - for some of our members in certain regions - frankly inaccessible!).

A few years later we know that nothing could be further from the truth. Activists in Europe and Central Asia need funding. The evidence is right in front of our eyes: more than ever activists are fighting day and night to prevent backlash, standing up against new opposition and much work remains to be done across to get legal and policy protections be implemented.

The GPP reports provide information based on input from funders and their priorities. We wanted to tell the story of activists and what their needs are.

At ILGA-Europe we found over the last years that there are great ways to work with donors to help them do their work better. But what was missing was information about the funding reality of LGBTI organisations.

We also felt that it was important to better understand how resources can help movements in changing the everyday lived experiences of LGBTI people in Europe and Central Asia – now more than ever!

And so we worked over the past few months with amazing folks at Strength in Numbers to delve into the reality of LGBTI activism.

287 organisations participated in our survey and told us about their work: what their priorities are, their gaps in funding, where they get funding from and what barriers they face in getting funding.

There are many findings and I invite you to have a look at our report to find out more.

What is more important for now is that activists and funders start to talk about what these findings mean. Our findings are based on hard data. Data that can help underpin the stories of every day realities of activists – the next step is to engage with activists to bring the data together with stories.

So we hope to hear from activists in Europe and Central Asia. Whether you are a seasoned paid staffer in a large LGBTI organisation, a volunteer pride organiser, the leader of a trans peer support group, a queer performance artist: we would like to hear back from you about your experience of funding.

Want to get in touch about the report? Please participate in our webinar tomorrow or drop me a line.

We hope that the report will spark conversations and lead to new strategies to mobilise more resources that will help build an ever stronger and more sustainable LGBTI movement. This report is no end point – it’s only the beginning for much more conversations to be had about how we can bring more and better resources to the European LGBTI movements.