lbtq giving council

Who We Are

The LBTQ Giving Council is committed to fundraising in order to provide grants to organizations and programs benefiting the lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning communities in the Chicago region. Through its Lavender Fund, the LBTQ Giving Council was the first grantmaking entity in the city of Chicago to provide grants exclusively to lesbian communities. The Council has a special focus on women- and girl-identified people access to healthcare and information, freedom from violence and economic security.

The Giving Council is an extension of the work of Chicago Foundation for Women. CFW improves the lives of women and girls through grants, advocacy, leadership development, and public and grantee education. Since 1985, CFW has given more than 3,200 grants totaling over $26 million, and guided thousands of women and girls into becoming philanthropists

Who We Help: 

There are not many organizations in the country that are doing philanthropy that serves women and girls, and there’s even fewer that serve women of color and LGBTQ-identified women. I’m really proud to be a part of that. – Joy Messinger, Co-Chair LBTQ Giving Council.

The impact of our work is strong! We have granted upwards of $150,000 to 29 organizations since 2004. Here's what some of our grantees have shared:

Chicago Women’s Health Center was started 40 years ago during the women’s health movement. The Giving Council’s funds were used specifically for TGAP (Trans Greater Access Project). One of the most powerful things about those gifts is that this was the first and only support that we received specifically for TGAP. – Jess Kane, Director

About Face Theatre Company is a theatre company that furthers the national dialogue on gender and sexuality. The funding from the LBTQ GC has been used to fund our outreach programs. So we have two shows that we tour to CPS schools – elementary, middle and high school – and we’re using those funds to provide free shows to those schools. – L’Oreal Jackson, former Education Associate

In June 2016 we awarded grants to Assata's Daughters, the Chicago chapter of BYP100, Il Safe Schools Alliance and RAD Remedy. 

How It Works: 

We invite you to participate in effective philanthropy: philanthropy inspired by a commitment to create positive change for lbtq women- and girl-identified people. We invite you to make a difference in collaboration with those who share your connection to these communities! Members are those who identify with or are an ally to these communities.


Member Benefits

  • Amplify your giving by leveraging your dollars with those of other members.
  • Give voice to the issues effecting the women and girls in your community by deciding with your peers on the Council which programs to fund.
  • See the impact of your giving as funded programs share with membership accomplishments that were made possible by the Council’s grants.
  • Develop new personal and professional relationships with women from your community while learning about others.
  • Learn from trainings, workshops and conversations on philanthropy, women in philanthropy, issues and needs of women, how organizations are serving women, and trends and gaps in funding.

Member Responsibilities

  • Make an annual contribution of at least $250 with a variety of options to make payments affordable.
  • Participate in group and individual fundraising. This may include soliciting donors, sponsors, and in-kind contributions, serving on an events committee, or recruiting members.
  • Participate in the Giving Council grantmaking process, a cooperative effort to select the recipients of grants. This may include identifying organizations and programs to fund, reviewing proposals, conducting site visits, and voting on grant recommendations.
  • Provide good stewardship and thought partnership to the Council with your active and positive participation. This may include attending meetings, or contributing to discussions about fundraising and grantmaking.

Connect Chicago Foundation for Women with organizations and stakeholders doing work on behalf of women and girl identified people in the LBTQ communities in the Chicago region.


2016-2017 Council Co-Chairs
Joy Messinger
Kelly Murphy

2016-2017 Meetings 

Meetings are held the third Thursday of every other month from 6:00p.m. – 8:00p.m. at Chicago Foundation for Women, 140 S. Dearborn Suite 400, unless noted.

November 17, 2016
December 15, 2016
January 19, 2017
February 16, 2017
March 16, 2017
April 20, 2017
May 18, 2017
June 15, 2017

Why Giving Councils?

Giving Councils link grassroots organizations to funding and the Foundation to new issues, new leaders, and new ideas.

Through its giving councils, Chicago Foundation for Women aims to:

  • Exercise the power of giving individually and collectively to create an understanding of philanthropy within different cultures;
  • Establish unique funds to provide additional support to the communities represented by the Councils (proceeds generated through fundraising efforts by the Councils go toward these special funds);
  • Educate the public and take action on unique issues facing diverse communities in the Foundation’s areas of interest (economic security, freedom from violence, and access to health services and information);
  • Increase awareness about the Foundation’s work within diverse communities;
  • Provide leadership opportunities, and;
  • Amplify the voice of underrepresented women as philanthropists through democratic philanthropy.


For more information about the Giving Council, contact Eli Marsh at (312) 577-2825 or