Spotlight on Pride Funders: Horizons Foundation

Horizons Foundation was established in 1979 to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community by making grants, strengthening LGBTQ organizations and leadership, and increasing philanthropic giving. 

We spoke with Roger Doughty, President of the Horizons Foundation. He will participate in our Pride Funders Panel on June 1, at Foundation Center West. Please sign up for the event here.

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What projects is Horizons Foundation working on right now that you're excited about?
Because increasing resources for LGBTQ nonprofit organizations has always been a major focus of Horizons, one of the things that I am most excited about is that Horizons has become the national home for Give OUT Day. Give OUT Day is a national giving day, specifically for LGBTQ people and our allies, and for LGBTQ organizations across the country. We just had the second one in April, and we were able to increase revenues going to these communities and organizations by about 35 percent; and about 10,000 different people across the country made donations. The organizations that benefit the most from Give OUT day are smaller- and medium-sized; these organizations often don't have major fundraising infrastructures, and so this gives them an opportunity to fundraise and identify new supporters.

The driving rationale behind Give OUT day is that organizations at all levels of the movement and in every community around the country lack the resources they need to carry out their missions most effectively. Further, the single most promising source of greater support is from individuals: people who are members of the LGBTQ community and our allies. And so this is a concrete way to help organizations to leverage more funds from individuals.

Are there any particular challenges that Horizons Foundation is currently facing?
We’re facing a twofold challenge. On the one hand, due to the political and social changes of the past six months, there is a dramatic increase in the need for advocacy and for services for people in our community. The needs are acute:  some are being targeted or are facing discrimination, some are at risk of deportation, and some are facing a lack of access to health care services.

Even as the immediate needs of our community have risen drastically, we simultaneously need to protect the gains that we have made (such as marriage equality), as well as try to maintain forward momentum.

The second part of the challenge is that, since we achieved marriage equality two years ago, there is a grievously incorrect perception among foundations, corporate funders, allies, and even some people in our own community  that LGBTQ people have  “made it.” That, now that we have marriage equality, everything is fine. This perception does not take account of what the realities are for LGBTQ people in many parts of the world, including right here in the Bay Area. There's a big difference between what's on paper in the laws, and what people are living, and what affects them daily.

What do you feel hopeful about, as a funder of LGBTQ causes?
There's a great deal that I feel hopeful about. We do have significant changes that have happened in society and in law around the rights and the dignity and the humanity of LGBTQ people. There've been significant advances. And so I do feel optimistic. Of course, the road that will be full of curves and bumps and setbacks and that is of little comfort to the people who are suffering because of what's happening now. But I believe that, in the long term, we are going to continue to make progress.

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This post was written by Roger Doughty, President of Horizons Foundation. Roger has been an activist and leader in the LGBT movement for more than 25 years, and he has led Horizons Foundation since 2002. Prior to joining the foundation, he served as the Executive Director of Horizons Community Services in Chicago, the Midwest’s largest LGBT social service and advocacy organization.

Roger is a panelist on Thursday’s panel Beyond Marriage Equality: What’s Next in Funding LGBTQ Issues?