Australia’s first LGBTQIA+ giving circle is set to give away its first grants.
The Channel, which went live in December 2016, aims to change the way Australians experience gender and sexuality for the better through philanthropy.
The inaugural grant making subcommittee, made of founding members, has narrowed down more than 150 applicants to select a shortlist of three candidates for the $10,000 Haring Grant and three candidates for the $5,000 Hampton Grant.
The Channel executive director Georgia Mathews told Pro Bono News she was impressed with the calibre of applicants.
“It was amazing. The diversity was incredible,” Mathews said.
“We got things from all over the country, from really small organisations to slightly larger ones.
“It was such a great response and it was really encouraging for us because it just goes to show that (a) there is some amazing work being done that really needs funding, and (b) it is so great that we have that capability of funding the small things and being a bit more agile because the not-for-profit sector in this space doesn’t have the infrastructure to support a whole lot of DGR1 [deductible gift recipient] organisations at this stage and there is just not enough resources flowing into it.”
For the inaugural grant round The Channel set the theme of Brave Representations, in a bid to uncover LGBTQIA+ projects, ideas or individuals pushing public perceptions in a positive direction in brave ways.
Mathews said it was amazing to see how the applicants interpreted the theme.
“The way that everybody was able to interpret the theme and make it apply to their context was fantastic and I think it is really a credit to the subcommittee for picking a theme that gave everybody an alignment and allowed us to compare sort of apples with pears in a way but then also allow the whole fruit salad to jump in I guess,” she said.
“We invited anybody with membership to volunteer to sit on the grantmaking subcommittee and we got seven members who sat on that this time around. It was really great, because they were a really great mix… We had someone who does corporate relationships at beyondblue, somebody from Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, a paramedic, an architect, it was a real mix of people, some who had some experience in giving and some who didn’t have any, that was exactly what we sort of wanted.”
The Channel works through a membership model, made up of LGBTI people and allies, who give $25, $50 or $100 monthly donations in exchange for one vote in deciding which projects to support.
Mathews said the initiative hopes to raise awareness about giving.
“Our main objective is to get some much needed funds to the LGBTQIA+ community at the end of the day but we also have secondary and tertiary goals which is to teach community members and allies about giving, and giving well,” she said.
“[We also] try and create a sense of community and encourage networks.
“So it is obviously a common characteristic of giving circles but the members are very much a part of the process of deciding where the funds go.”
The Channel already has 53 members signed up.
“I had in my mind a soft target of 50 members and we have exceeded that now, so I am really ecstatic about that,” Mathews said.
“A lot of them are at the middle or lower level of donation, which also I think speaks to the fact that the model that we’ve adopted, with a tiered entry point of $300, $600 or $1200 a year, works really well to engage new people in the space who wouldn’t be able to do it if it was that kind of typical $1,000 a year kind of price point.
“I also think there are a few of people who are probably waiting to see what we do. So we’re looking forward to actually getting some money out the door and having some initiatives to celebrate and promote and hopefully that will inspire some more members to get onboard.”
The Channel is set to host two events (in Melbourne and Sydney) in June to reveal the shortlisted projects with members then able to vote on who receives funding.
Successful applicants will be announced on 19 June 2017.