The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas

By Steve Atkinson

The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas was founded in 2000, with this mission statement:  The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas promotes equality and raises awareness of the personal and financial contributions of gays and lesbians to the City of Dallas. By offering meaningful philanthropic and giving opportunities, GLFD distinguishes the gay community as a major source or philanthropy. GLFD boosts the power of gay philanthropy by consolidating and distributing charitable contributions to non-profit agencies that serve the entire Dallas community. With every donation given by GLFD to non-profit agencies, GLFD ensures that the agencies do not discriminate in their hiring and employment practices and highlights that recipient agencies value diversity.

         Enrique MacGregor and Mark Niermann

         Enrique MacGregor and Mark Niermann

In the fall of 2000, an opportunity arose for the gay and lesbian community of Dallas to come together and make a meaningful contribution to the Dallas Latino Cultural Center, an extremely important new addition to Dallas's cultural fabric.  Led by GLFD founders Enrique MacGregor and Mark Niermann, a small group of individuals joined forces to organize a fund-raising event called Noche de Gala, and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas was born. The idea of the Fund quickly took hold and the overwhelmingly positive response from the gay and non-gay communities alike has fueled its growth.

Shortly after this first event in 2000, the Fund formed its first board of directors. It incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Texas in 2001. In the spring of 2001, the Fund was recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity.

Since its inception in 2001, the Gay & Lesbian Fund has raised over $1,300,000 for Dallas area non-profits. Significant contributions have been made to the following organizations through our events and on-going programs:

·                AT&T Performing Arts Center ($145,000)

·                Bark Park Central (Downtown Dog Park) ($7,000)

·                Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)  ($55,000)

·                Dallas Children's Theater ($55,000)

·                Dallas Latino Cultural Center ($75,000)

·                Dallas Museum of Art  ($400,000)

·                Dallas Public Library  ($5,000)

·                Dallas Theater Center ($50,000)

·                Dallas Women's Museum ($100,000)

·                Friends of Katy Trail ($15,000)

·                KERA 90.1 Public Radio  ($110,000)

·                Oak Lawn Triangle ($5,000)

·                Parkland Hospital ($90,000)

·                SPCA of Texas ($102,000)

·                The Stewpot ($5,000)

·                Twelve Hills Nature Center ($25,000)

·                The Wilkinson Center ($5,000)

·                Trinity River Audubon Center ($145,400)

·                Dallas Symphony Orchestra ($5,000)

·               SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development ($25,000)

The primary focus of GLFD is to make donations to service and community organizations that are not gay-specific organizations, and in doing so bring visibility to those donations coming from the gay community.  GLFD also advocates for equal employment opportunity by requiring recipient organizations to include sexual orientation in their official, written employment policies. GLFD provides gays, lesbians, and their allies with a mechanism to bundle philanthropic funds, an incentive to give strategically, and a reason to feel proud about gay and lesbian contributions to the City of Dallas.

The core values of GLFD are:

·               To contribute to the common good of the community

·               To demonstrate financial commitment and responsibility

·               To shows determination and stewardship

·               To advance equality and inclusion

·               To nurture partnerships and friendships

·               To raise our voices as valued members of society

Among various causes and organizations that have benefited from GLFD’s philanthropy, the biggest impact that resulted from working with GLFD was the employment policy changes made at Parkland Hospital in 2007. Through a series of community meetings, outreach, and advocacy efforts, the Gay & Lesbian Fund of Dallas was instrumental in - and the driving force behind - the non-discrimination policy changes enacted at Parkland Hospital, providing protections based on sexual orientation which impacted more than 9,000 employees in Dallas County.

The Gay and Lesbian Fund of Dallas strives to be known for its ongoing commitment to “advancing equality through philanthropy.” As part of the fund’s mission of requiring organizations to recognize the significant contributions of the LGBT community (particularly for non-LGBT causues), it is equally important to require partner organizations to include or create an employment non-discrimination policy in their hiring practices. 

Left to right:  Steve Atkinson, Brian Walker, County Commissioner Elba Garcia, Betsy Orton, Sharon Fancher at the unveiling of the SPCA Mobile Rescue Unit funded by the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas.  

Left to right:  Steve Atkinson, Brian Walker, County Commissioner Elba Garcia, Betsy Orton, Sharon Fancher at the unveiling of the SPCA Mobile Rescue Unit funded by the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas.  

Gays and lesbians of Dallas have long made significant contributions to local area non-profit organizations that benefit all citizens of Dallas. But this patronage has been, until the birth of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas, largely illusive. The support from the gay and lesbian community for gay and lesbian causes has always been widely acknowledged, but its support for citywide non-profit organizations and causes had largely been invisible before the founding of GLFD.

The Fund changes this dynamic by shining a light on the contributions to the larger Dallas community of local gays and lesbians and their allies. This increased exposure raises the awareness of Dallas's citizens, both gay and straight, that we all are part of the same community and share common concerns and dreams for Dallas.

GLFD has been featured in major local publications such as the Dallas Morning News, Paper City, Philanthropy in Texas, and the Voice.

Major corporate sponsors of past events include Affiliated Computer Services, American Airlines, Blockbuster, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Shelter Mortgage, Tiffany, Washington Mutual, and Caven Enterprises.

The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas is proud to be the first member of the Gay and Lesbian Fund Affiliates Program of the Gill Foundation. The Fund continues to be inspired by the work of Tim Gill, the Gill Foundation, and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado. Although the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas remains loosely affiliated with the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, GLFD is completely independent, and is locally funded by gays, lesbians and their allies in Dallas.