The BEtter OUTcomes Initiative Learning Community of Practice

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This is part two of a blog post series from PFund Foundation. Find part one here.

The BEtter OUTcomes Initiative (BOI) is a shared effort of many Minnesota funders, informing, engaging, and mobilizing the funding community to invest in solutions to serious issues that LGBTQ Minnesotans face. BOI is designed to equip foundations to be skilled, sensitive grantmakers and to ensure adequate, sustained funding on par with the rest of the country for LGBTQ-focused efforts, leveling the playing field for all members of our community.

An important and successful component of BOI focuses on a cohort-based professional development opportunity for Minnesota funders. The BOI Learning Community of Practice, or LCOP, includes a series of five half-day, interactive sessions spanning five months, facilitated by LGBTQ leaders from across the philanthropic sector. Designed to foster skillful, sensitive LGBTQ-inclusive philanthropy.  In an environment free of judgment, this learning experience offers the opportunity to ask honest questions and explore ways that Minnesota funders can ensure their grantmaking and organizational cultures are fair and inclusive.

Research shows that the Upper Midwest lags behind every other region in the nation in LGBTQ-focused grantmaking. Through BOI-convened focus groups and interviews, we learned that many grantmakers and their trustees may not feel comfortable explicitly discussing LGBTQ-related issues; may not realize how the extent or serious impacts of this lack of funding; or may not connect the grantmaking priorities of their organization to relevant issues facing LGBTQ community members. These issues and related research are described in Fairness in Philanthropy,” a report outlining the purpose, needs, goals, and related tools for the BEtter OUTcomes Initiative. This in-depth report includes research, stories from the field, exercises that support grantmakers in identifying areas of work that may have room for growth. 

This groundbreaking report includes the newly-developed Appropriate Standards for LGBTQ-Inclusive Grantmaking. The Appropriate Standards offer tools for funders to ensure their organizational cultures and practices foster fairness and inclusion. It also offers important guidance on the promotion, consideration, and award of grantfunding. Grantmakers can use the tools in the Fairness in Philanthropy resource to guide your organization’s approaches and practices to ensure skillful, sensitive grantmaking with respect to LGBTQ-focused initiatives and organizations. 

Karen Applebaum is the Operations Director at the Northwest Area Foundation. She expressed her appreciation of how the LCOP has helped her personally being able to openly identify as LGBTQ in philanthropic spaces, and professionally in enhancing the work of leveling the playing field for LGBTQ individuals and organizations. “The LCOP has given me much more strength and comfort in being amongst allies and others who share in a desire to make lives better for those who are discriminated against.” Karen shared her experience bringing the work of the LCOP back to the NW Area Foundation, “It’s been great being a part of the Learning Community of Practice to be able to further my learning and education in the LGBTQ community, and bring back those learnings, ideas and opportunities to our organization to further what we are doing to help those that are struggling to live more prosperous lives.”

The Learning Community of Practice is a successful example of how the BEtter OUTcomes Initiative is facilitating space for grantmakers and allies to create deep, personal change as well as develop solutions to level the playing field for LGBTQ organizations carrying out powerful work in our communities.

For more information on the BEtter OUTcomes Initiative Learning Community of Practice contact Tom Vance, PFund Foundation Develoment Manager at

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