Whether you’re raising money for an LGBT specific cause or any other cause, throwing a fundraiser that welcomes LGBT folks opens up your group to a wider supporter base, shows goodwill on your part and that you are paying attention to societal shifts. While having a fundraiser that caters to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender attendees is really no different to throwing any other fundraisers, there are several steps you can take to make it clear that you have really considered the needs of your LGBT guests:
1. Create a safe space
While your group and volunteers may be welcoming LGBT attendees with open arms, it’s important to check that the staff and entertainers of your venue are doing the same. Nothing will turn off the LGBT community supporting your cause more than rumors of discrimination.
Make a plan to assure that security, catering staff, or entertainers are briefed, and do some research to make sure you aren’t inadvertently selling any products or services that support homophobic laws or fund discriminatory practices. If your LGBT attendees notice that you have made an effort to create a safe and supportive environment, word is likely to spread fast and you will reap the benefits.
2. Gender neutral restrooms
This is a hugely important step forward if you are aiming to create a space for the LGBT community to feel welcome in. While some event organizers might not quite be aware that LGBT stands for more than just ‘gay’, you can stand out by showing that you are mindful of transgender people too.
While transgender patrons may use the bathroom that suits them, on occasion this could be intimidating, confusing, or even dangerous. Gender neutral bathrooms are for anyone and everyone to use, and prevents transgender people having to feel vulnerable or uncomfortable when they need to use the restroom.
3. LGBT charities
Any big charities that give money to a diverse range of causes will want to have an LGBT recipient on the books. Similarly if you’re throwing a LGBT-friendly bash, big LGBT donors, sponsors, trusts, and charities are likely to pass something your way, either now or in the future. Consider applying to one of these for a grant or donation if your cause is relevant.
4. The ‘Pink Dollar’
If you’re selling any products at your fundraiser, make sure that some of these products are geared toward LGBT consumers, this doesn’t have to be something obvious, but researching the demographic and observing what consumers want in your area can help you to decide. This goes for materials of interest – if you have poster or brochures for anything from parenting to holidays, see if you can make sure they are considerate of LGBT readers.
5. Keep up relations
Making ties with the LGBT community (or any community) is hugely beneficial to your future fundraising efforts. While one LGBT event might be the focus of your efforts for now, look forward by maintaining good relations and developing a mindful policy to reflect your commitment to LGBT welfare.
While bringing people to an LGBT fundraiser and making sure they feel welcome takes a bit of careful thought, an LGBT specific event contains many of the same elements as any other fundraiser.
Targeting your audience is always important, and if you are unsure of how to do this, consider joining forces with LGBT persons or groups to help you organize, promote, and carry out the event.
Local communities and networks of communication carry news very fast, and this is why showing support for LGBT people can continue to benefit your cause well into the future. Similarly, ignoring or alienating these people can damage it.
While making LGBT people feel welcome doesn’t have to mean making the event about or for LGBT people, it does pay off to show a little consideration – at least with staffing and materials as mentioned above. But most importantly, as always make your fundraiser fun, informative, and functional!
(Image: Wikipedia/Ludovic Bertro)