2018 marked twenty years of LGBTQ community-focused grantmaking at Chicago Foundation for Women, beginning with the creation of The Lavender Fund in 1998. The first grantmaking entity in the city of Chicago to provide grants exclusively to lesbian communities, the Lavender Fund was created by the foundation’s Lesbian Outreach Task Force – which eventually became the LBTQ Giving Council – to provide the entire community and heterosexual allies with a vehicle to support the LGBTQ community.
Now, the Lavender Fund supports grantmaking by the LBTQ Giving Council of CFW, an affinity-based group committed to fundraising in order to provide grants to organizations and programs benefiting lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning women and girls in the Chicago region.
Kim L. Hunt has been a member of the LBTQ Giving Council since 2014. She initially joined the Council because “creating the opportunity for more resources to be directed to [LGBTQ] organizations was important to me.”
“As a nonprofit executive director, I came to appreciate how important it is to have donations both from foundations but also the community you’re serving,” she adds.
Community is central to the mission of the LBTQ Giving Council. “One thing about this giving council, because there are community groups around the table, there is an awareness of community groups that might otherwise fly under the radar of a foundation because the council members are in the trenches doing that work,” says Kim.
Over half of the organizations first funded by a Giving Council or Giving Circle of CFW – many of which are emerging organizations for whom CFW is the first institutional funder – have gone on to receive general funding through the foundation.
For Kim, an affinity-based giving council is “a form of activism too. Philanthropy is something that we often associate with wealth, but anybody can be a philanthropist. It’s taking what resources you have and using them to support causes that you’re interested it.”