Pro Bono Australia News, Ellie Cooper, December 6 2016
Australia’s first giving circle dedicated to funding LGBTI community organisations and projects is now live.
Conceived by members of the LGBTI community earlier this year, The Channel was launched with the goal of raising $100,000 by the end of 2017 and the mission to “change the way Australians experience gender and sexuality for the better, through philanthropy”.
A giving circle is made up of individuals who collectively pool their donations and decide on a cause to support.
Director of The Channel Neil Pharaoh told Pro Bono Australia News the initiative, and philanthropy for LGBTI organisations in general, was of “critical” importance.
“For a long time Australia’s had a lack of philanthropy or a lack of support for the LGBTI community, and The Channel’s designed specifically to support LGBTI projects and community organisations across Australia,” Pharaoh said.
“That’s the first reason why we’re very excited to kick it off.”
He said The Channel was also helping to democratise philanthropy and make it more accessible to a wider group of people.
The membership model, made up of LGBTI people and allies, accepts $25, $50 or $100 monthly donations in exchange for one vote in deciding which projects to support.
They are also hoping to secure corporate partners who can donate as well as create a membership in kind, sponsoring a young person to vote.
“It’s effectively a membership model, so there’s a monthly amount deducted from your account or credit card, it’s a tax deduction, and when a certain amount of money is in our bank account we all meet either virtually or in person, have a few drinks and democratically vote for a project we want to support, or multiple projects we want to support,” Pharaoh said.
“We’re hopeful [about having] more younger people involved in the process of learning about philanthropy and understanding what’s involved.”
The Channel’s founder Georgia Mathews said the initiative was created in light of increasing social change work in the LGBTI community, without the funding to match.
“Funding is very scarce. There’s not a lot of data on LGBTQIA+ giving in Australia. However, in the States, for every $100 awarded by foundations only 28 cents go to LGBTQIA+ issues,” Mathews said.
“That’s less than any other disadvantaged group.”
Pharaoh said The Channel would play an advocacy role, increasing awareness of and engagement in LGBTI projects.
“There’s only a couple of areas in the LGBTI community that have received attention from a philanthropic and community perspective,” he said.
“The Channel’s designed to work with more traditional philanthropic groups to raise the awareness of funding in that area, as well as fund specific projects.”
While The Channel will support a broad range of projects, Pharaoh said those addressing intersectional disadvantage were particularly important.
“There’s a disability support organisation that once a month meets with intellectually and physically disabled LGBTI people at a cafe, they get their carers together… a monthly catch up,” he said.
“It only costs them $10,000 a year to run that project, but year on year they’re having difficulty seeking that $10,000.
“There’s a number of areas that don’t have representation in this space, LGBTI arts projects, disability projects, intersectionality projects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as well.”