People march at Chicago’s 2018 Pride Parade. Photo: Roberto Galan/shutterstock
People march at Chicago’s 2018 Pride Parade. Photo: Roberto Galan/shutterstock

When you first see the name of this giving council, you might think there’s a typo because the “G” is missing. The spelling is intentional. The LBTQ Giving Council specifically serves women in its capacity as a part of the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW).

Here’s a look at how the LBTQ Giving Council works in Chicago, including who’s running it and who has been receiving its grants.

What this giving council does

The LBTQ Giving Council provides grants to organizations that offer programs for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning women and girls who live in Chicago. This council was the first grantmaking entity in Chicago to exclusively provide grants to lesbian communities. Specific areas of interest include freedom from violence, economic security and access to healthcare for women-identified and girl-identified individuals.

How giving councils work

Giving councils are membership groups that operate on a fiscal year basis but allow new members to join at any time. The LBTQ Giving Council meets each month on third Thursdays and holds events organized by members. The members choose their own levels of participation. The organization awards grants in June following an annual review process.

There are several giving circles at CFW, including the North Shore Giving Circle, South Side Giving Circle and Western Suburbs Giving Circle. In addition to its giving circles and the LBTQ Giving Council, CFW manages additional giving councils like the Women’s United Giving Council and the Young Women Giving Council.

Who’s involved with the council

New chairs typically provide leadership for the LBTQ Giving Council each year. For the 2020-2021 year, they are Lauren Birchlove and Carly Stacy. Lauren Birchlove is the director of corporate and foundation grants at UCAN (Chicago) and previously served as the institutional giving manager for Cara Chicago. Carly Stacy is a program manager for the Erickson Institute in Chicago and previously served as the grants coordinator for the Ounce of Prevention Fund.

Members of the LBTQ Giving Council must make an annual contribution of at least $250, and the group has several options available to make payments affordable. Ways to get involved with this organization include group and individual fundraising, conducting site visits, reviewing grant proposals, attending meetings and connecting CFW with organizations working on behalf of LBTQ communities in Chicago.

Recent council support

This giving council has been serving Chicago since 2004 and has made at least 56 grants totaling over $175,000 since then. Grants are relatively significant in size, but the council typically makes only a small number of them a year.

For example, One Roof Chicago received a $7,500 grant from the council in 2020. In 2019, Affinity Community Services, the National LGBTQ Workers Center and Sisters in Cinema shared a total of $10,700 in grants.

Check out IP’s full profile of the LBTQ Giving Council and other local funders who care about LGBTQ issues in our Chicago and Great Lakes funding guide.