Once funded, the Out Georgia Impact Fund will offer grants that help LGBTQ causes in “meaningful, measurable and lasting” ways, said Chris Lugo, executive director of Out Georgia.
You may know the local business networking group for its happy hour fetes, business summit, its most influential LGBTQ Georgians list and an annual awards gala. But doing good in the gayborhood is right in line with the group’s philosophy as well, Lugo said.
“Out Georgia Business Alliance believes philanthropy and community impact is central to delivering our mission,” Lugo told Project Q Atlanta. “I’m looking forward to what we’re able to accomplish together.”
The program will award LGBTQ-focused grants according to pre-set priorities, he added. Those include agencies that help individuals and families in urgent need, Black-led organizations, small businesses, and advocacy groups.
Impact Fund grants will also carry the power of the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
“United Way of Greater Atlanta’s vision and mission center on inclusion and equity. Our vision is that Greater Atlanta is a community where all individuals and families thrive regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” Milton J. Little, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta, said in an announcement of the fund.
Funding the future
As a philanthropic standard bearer, the United Way brought the resources and experience to set up and run the program, Lugo said. It helped Out Georgia set priorities and create a lasting infrastructure to manage donations and measure success.
“Their team shares our passion and vision of making long-term investments in our LGBTQ+ community’s success and well-being,” Lugo said.
The groups set an initial goal of $100,000 to get the Impact Fund rolling. In addition to some existing Out Georgia board members, other interested parties are encouraged to apply to join an advisory board that will guide the fund into the future.
Lugo hopes to finalize the inaugural advisory committee by March. That’s when vetting potential beneficiaries begins. The committee then recommends grants to the United Way for distribution, he said.
“Once the Impact Fund’s advisory committee is established, that group will be responsible for establishing our annual focus, reviewing the selection process for eligible nonprofit organizations, and making the grant recommendations to United Way of Greater Atlanta,” Lugo said.
“Of course, there are so many incredible Atlanta area nonprofits serving the LGBTQ+ community that already come to mind, but we’ll wait for the Advisory Committee to guide us moving forward,” he added.
But before the Impact Fund can make a difference, the coffers are open for that first $100,000. Out Georgia members and corporate partners are “overwhelmingly positive” about the possibilities, Lugo said.
“I’m anticipating that over the next several months, we will see funding commitments from our corporate community, employee giving campaigns, and individual giving efforts start to build substantial momentum,” he said. “I’m confident donors and supporters are going to dig in this spring and summer once our advisory committee is in place and doing the work.”
Lugo pitched the effort as a way to support a broader scope of beneficiaries for a greater good.
“Making a donation or charitable gift is a deeply personal act,” Lugo said. “I believe it’s more important than ever to align your spending and donations with your individual, family and community values.”
“Take the time to learn more about our effort and priorities, and know that your gift, no matter the size, will go to support nonprofit organizations that can do even more good with your involvement,” he added. “Supporting this Impact Fund can be one important way for you to learn about and invest in your LGBTQ+ community.”
The program serves as an investment in the future, Lugo said.
“[The fund is] designed to grow and evolve over time with the needs of the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “I think we’re going to be incredibly proud when we look back after a few years.”