AAPIP Voices

2020 Update on LGBTQ AAPI Funding

In a Unique Pride Month, What Does Funding For LGBTQ AAPI People Look Like?

By: Lyle Matthew Kan, Vice President of Research & Communications, Funders for LGBTQ Issues

I have participated in countless LGBTQ Pride Month celebrations over the years but Pride Month 2020 promises to be different. As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on and we rise up to address anti-Black racism and confront police brutality in the United States, many of us in the LGBTQ community are recentering one of the original goals of the LGBTQ movement – liberation. The recent Supreme Court decision granting federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans is an important win and a great start to the critical work we all still need to do. But it’s just that – a start.  Across the country, a significant number of LGBTQ Pride Month events are transforming into actions to address discrimination and police violence – two drivers of the Stonewall Riots that helped usher in the modern LGBTQ rights movement. In all of this, I am pleased to partner with AAPIP to continue to shine a light on the underfunding of Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBTQ people.

In 2015, AAPIP and Funders for LGBTQ Issues released Philanthropy OUTlook: LGBTQ Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities. That infographic explored foundation funding for LGBTQ AAPI communities between 2004 and 2013. It found that funding for LGBTQ AAPI communities hovered around $1 million annually, never exceeding $2 million in a calendar year and peaking at $1.8 million in 2011. It also noted that only five foundations were awarding $100,000 or more to LGBTQ AAPI communities between 2012 and 2013.

Sadly, not much has changed in the intervening years. Over the last five years, while LGBTQ funding overall and funding for LGBTQ communities of color has increasd, foundation funding for LGBTQ AAPI communities has stagnated and continues to hover around $1 million. In the last five years, the funding never surpassed $1.4 million dollars in a given year.

LGBTQ AAPI Funding, 2014-2018

There is some variation in the top ten list, with seven funders awarding more than $100,000 over a two-year period, but the funding remains extremely top heavy. The top 10 funders of LGBTQ AAPI communities accounted for nearly 70 percent of all the funding.

Top 10 Funders for LGBTQ AAPI Communities, 2017-2018

Nearly 45 percent of the funding supported strengthening communities, families, and visibility, and roughly a third went towards advancing civil rights. Advocacy was the most funded strategy, receiving approximately 35 percent of the funding. Only $206,330 was awarded for transgender AAPI people.

As a community with so many unique needs and incredible assets to build on, it is alarming that only 0.0012 percent of all philanthropic dollars support LGBTQ AAPI communities. That means that for every $100 awarded by U.S. foundations, only a tenth of one penny supports LGBTQ AAPI communities. 

This Pride Month, as many funders commit to increasing their support for racial justice and for LGBTQ rights, I hope that they will also commit to addressing the unique needs of LGBTQ AAPI communities.