Lesbian and Gay Fund gets gift

Ret Boney

CHARLOTTE – A charitable fund benefiting gays and lesbians in the Charlotte area has received a $100,000 matching grant from local businessman Sandy Berlin.

The dollar-for-dollar grant aims to bolster nonprofits that support the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Since its inception in 2004, the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, administered by the Foundation for the Carolinas, has awarded a total of $162,500 in grants.

Berlin, who provided the first individual gift to the fund, hopes his latest donation will encourage others to give.

“The Gay and Lesbian Fund goes to support causes of interest to our community,” he says. “I think gay and lesbian people should have the same kind of community fund other have to take care of our own needs and desires as they come up.”

If the challenge is met, Berlin’s latest gift will result in $200,000 that will go toward an endowment for future needs, he says.

The initial money to launch the fund came from the Funders for Gay and Lesbian Issues, with the goal of developing an endowment to fund groups led by gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender executives.

“We recognized the organizations run by LGBT really had no endowments or access to annual giving by United Ways,” says Tom Warshauer, past president of the fund’s advisory board. “They were operating on a shoestring.”

Over the next two years, the goal is to build the fund to $500,000, he says, with a five-year goal of topping $1 million.

The fund’s most recent round of grants, totaling $57,500, benefited 10 local groups and programs, including Campus Pride, the LGBT Community Center and the Time Out Youth Speakers Bureau.

The fund now has about $245,000 in assets, include about $60,000 it plans to award in grants next year.

About 70 percent of the fund’s grantmaking is awarding in operating grants, while the remainder is used to boost initiatives that encourage collaboration between LGTB and non-LGTB communities.

“Charlotte should be a place that builds these partnerships and makes a more welcoming environment,” says Warshauer.

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