I was lucky to spend the better part of a week in May with 160 of my philanthropy colleagues as we all convened in Canyonville for the bi-annual Grantmakers of Oregon & SW Washington (GOSW) Conference.
While getting to meet George the elephant on a learning tour may have been a personal highlight, my biggest takeaway from the conference was the resounding and inspiring way that prioritizing equity is reverberating throughout the field of philanthropy.
From the several sessions devoted to exploring this explicitly, to GOSW’s new strategic direction as an organization that includes a commitment to embedding equity in philanthropy in their region—equity, diversity, and inclusion is shaping up to be more than just a trend.
For Pride Foundation specifically, this conference proved to be a critical opportunity to talk with our partners in the philanthropic sector about the specific challenges and opportunities facing LGBTQ people and communities in Oregon.
Being one of the very few foundations in the region with a specific focus on supporting LGBTQ issues, this was a main topic of conversation throughout the week, whether it was at dinner or in those moments walking between sessions and activities.
This idea was also the central theme of the session I led alongside Kim Sogge, Pride Foundation Regional Philanthropy Fellow, and Sally Yee, our colleague at Meyer Memorial Trust—entitled Exploring LGBTQ Issues, Equity, and Philanthropy.
We shared the trends in foundation funding for LGBTQ issues and communities—the most poignant of which is that for every $100 awarded by foundations, only $0.28 goes to LGBTQ issues—and gave an overview of the key issues and opportunities that are rising to the top for LGBTQ people, focusing on the organizations doing this work in Oregon and SW Washington.
Getting to share in detail the phenomenal work of Pride Foundation grantees and community partners may have been my favorite part of the whole conference.
Our not-so-subtle agenda was to raise awareness among the wider philanthropic community about the unique opportunities and challenges facing LGBTQ communities. Particularly given the growing trend within philanthropy toward emphasizing equity, diversity, and inclusion, this was a chance to explore the ways in which LGBTQ issues are a part of the work they’re already investing in and prioritizing.
Sally was able to give an example in this session of a strategic partnership that began with this idea in mind. She specifically highlighted the partnership that Meyer Memorial Trust and Pride Foundation have had over the past year and a half, as we’ve worked closely with them to further develop the LGBTQ component of their equity framework. Sally then went on to discuss the ways in which this could potentially serve as a model for funders mutually supporting one another’s work, particularly around equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The conference’s opening speaker, Sherece West-Scantlebury from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, began by asking the question: “What is the biggest obstacle to grantmaking for change?”
Her answer? Hopelessness.
While there are many hurdles and obstacles on the path toward full legal and lived equity for all, I am pleased to say that—given this experience—I don’t think that hopelessness will be one of them.
Katie Carter is the Director of Strategic Partnerships. Email Katie.