Inclu­sion or dis­il­lu­sion – how do LGBT+ peo­ple in the UK feel about giv­ing to charity?

The LGBT+ com­mu­ni­ty rep­re­sents a huge and grow­ing demo­graph­ic with con­sid­er­able giv­ing pow­er. For char­i­ties and fundrais­ers, under­stand­ing how to engage this group has nev­er been more impor­tant. In this report from sec­tor spe­cial­ists Con­sid­er, their team found out how LGBT+ peo­ple in the UK real­ly feel about giv­ing to charities.

Written by
Amy Nield
October 05, 2023

When it comes to fundraising, LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual) people are woefully under-researched. But Consider’s new report is here to provide some answers – and help fundraisers to reach this large and growing demographic.

The 2021 Census showed, for the first time, just how big the audience is. One and a half million people self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and 262,000 self-identified as a gender that they weren’t assigned at birth. 

That’s why Consider’s research – based on a deep qualitative study of LGBT+ people from across the UK – couldn’t come at a better time. 

At Consider we know that should charities have an opportunity to do better when it comes to connecting with LGBT+ people. And there’s so much more fundraisers can do to inspire this group of people to support their causes. Yet, in our experience, it’s common for fundraisers and communicators to feel uncertain about how to proceed.

So, as a fundraiser, what do you need to know?

The first, staggering takeaway is that no participants interviewed could name a non-LGBT+ charity that they felt included individuals like them in their communications. This was despite every participant being a charity giver, with some putting up a great deal of time and money to charities. 

This tells us – in no uncertain terms – how important it is for charities to commit to diverse, authentic representation across all their marketing and fundraising.

In a webinar about the report, Liz Tate, Director of Fundraising at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, said that this should start from inside. 

‘If we ensure we are inclusive and diverse as charities, that will then impact how we show up to the world.’ – Liz Tate

Crucially, this commitment to representation should also be year-round. Across the board, participants were cynical about charities who only demonstrated commitment to representation during Pride.

Alzheimer’s Society are an example of how to get it right. The story of Hilary and Pauline – a same-sex couple facing a diagnosis of vascular dementia – was released in March. It made waves online and helped raise the reputation of the charity in the eyes of LGBT+ supporters.

Alzheimer’s Society have shown their commitment to LGBT+ communities, all year round.

You can watch a wonderful video of Hilary and Pauline telling their own story, in their own words, here.

As well as just being the right thing to do, this visibility translates into generosity. Consider’s report showed that LGBT+ people were motivated to give to charities that told authentic stories from people like them. 

So for Alzheimer’s Society, and other charities leading the way, we believe that championing representation will pay off when it comes to fundraising.

And that’s just the beginning of what our research uncovered.

Some other valuable insights from Consider’s research that are relevant to fundraisers like you include:

●      If the only time a charity talks about LGBT+ people is during Pride month, it can actually damage their reputation in the LGBT+ community.

●      All participants looked for charities that would commit wholeheartedly to inclusivity and stand firm in the face of backlash.  

●      To inspire the LGBT+ community to give, charities should ask: how can we frame a donation as an act of solidarity?

●      Generation-Z and younger Millennial audiences are motivated most by solidarity, and giving should be framed in those terms.

●      Right now, many Generation-Z and younger Millennial LGBT+ people give through direct-to-beneficiary platforms. Fundraisers should look at these sites (for example, GoFundMe) for inspiration of how to help people feel close to the cause. Perhaps it’s through a sense of responsibility to a real person, the opportunity to communicate directly with messages of support, or the transparency that these platforms offer.

●      Older Millennials and Generation X LGBT+ people give in more traditional ways, with a leaning towards regular giving. But they shared a strong sense of responsibility to others and responded well to connections between current issues and historical struggles.

If you would like to discover how to engage the LGBT+ community and grow your supporter base for years to come, you can download and read the full report by Consider, here

IMAGES: © Consider and Alzheimer’s Society YouTube

Editor’s note: Like Alzheimer’s Society above, another charity that has shown a year-round commitment to LGBT+ communities, is Marie Curie. For many years, Marie Curie have been working towards becoming a more inclusive charity.

In 2016, Marie Curie published a report which explored why LGBT+ people experience significant barriers to getting palliative care when they need it

And then, in 2020, Marie Curie published another report (in partnership with Superdrug) calling for changes that would improve the care and support received by LGBT+ people and those close to them, towards the end of life.

About the author: Amy Nield

Amy Nield (they/them) is Strategy Director at Consider. They’ve been advocating for better LGBT+ inclusion and representation in marketing and comms their entire career – and, as Consider’s lead strategist, Amy is passionate about helping the charity sector inspire underserved audiences.

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