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Support the community that supports you

What do 96 percent of LGBT people have in common?

Despite the wonderful diversity within the LGBT community, there exists one shocking commonality: fewer than 4 percent of LGBT people are currently donating to LGBT causes.

That means 96 percent —  yes, 96 percent —  of LGBT people nationwide and right here in Wisconsin are not supporting their community-focused organizations.

Of course, the diversity within the community leads to a diverse set of funding priorities. And it is critical that LGBT voices and investments are made in other movements to ensure LGBT participation and representation everywhere.

Still, we must remember that while we are making tremendous gains in advancing equality across the country and in Wisconsin, our ability to continue moving forward requires significant resources and increased investment.

With fewer than 4 percent of LGBT people supporting LGBT organizations, we have a considerable challenge to overcome. But we also have an incredible opportunity to increase support to a level that will sustain the equality movement for years to come.

This is not just an issue that impacts political organizations such as Fair Wisconsin. The statistics, compiled by the Movement Advancement Project and Horizons Foundation, include giving to the full spectrum of LGBT-focused organizations, including those providing advocacy, education and direct service.

Many of you are already doing as much as you can to support the LGBT community. Whether you’re donating what you can afford, volunteering your time, serving on boards or advocating for the changes we need to ensure LGBT people thrive in Wisconsin, your leadership is welcome with much gratitude. 

But I urge those of you who haven’t started to invest in the future of equality or the community to think about the fact that the vast majority of LGBT people aren’t contributing to the work done on their behalf.

Want a quick and easy way to step up your game? No problem. Fall isn’t just the season when we pull out last year’s fleece to keep warm on a brisk day. It’s also when workplace giving campaigns are in full swing.

Workplace giving offers a unique chance for people to pledge to support the charity or charities of their choice through simple payroll deductions. Employers often match their employees’ giving, providing the opportunity to double your impact. Community Shares of Wisconsin and Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee are two organizations dedicated to raising funds to support social justice work in Wisconsin. These groups have a strong commitment to the LGBT community and are doing amazing work to build the individual giving of people across our state. Many LGBT organizations are members of both of these organizations, including the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, OutReach, GSAFE, Cream City Foundation, New Harvest Foundation and Fair Wisconsin Education Fund. This is not a comprehensive list of LGBT organizations in Wisconsin — it includes just the recipients of those two workplace-giving groups. Whether your employer participates in Community Shares, United Way or another workplace giving program, or whether your LGBT organization of choice is not included in the list above, I hope you’ll consider how your giving can positively impact Wisconsin’s LGBT community. Being in the majority isn’t always something to be proud of. Join the 4 percent who are making visionary investments in the future of LGBT equality.

Katie Belanger is president/CEO of Fair Wisconsin.

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