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Three Boston LGBT Nonprofits Top List on Philanthropedia

by Antoinette Weil

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday January 23, 2013

Three Boston LGBT organizations have been recognized as top local nonprofits by Philanthropedia, a division of nonprofit information source, GuideStar. Boston Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Youth (BAGLY), Mass Equality, and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) ranked fourth, fifth and eighth, respectively on the list of 11, deeming them all "high-impact" equality supporters.

"It's not just important to support charities but to support the best charities," said Erinn Andrews, GuideStar's Senior Director of Nonprofit Strategy and Original Chief Operating Officer of Philanthropedia.

This list, which was released in early January, was created by surveying 110 experts in field of LGBT equality, including CEO's, executive directors, policy makers, researchers, journalists and academics. Once chosen, these experts filled out detailed questionnaires and were allowed to recommend up to four nonprofits, excluding ones they work for, that stand out for their high impact at the local level.

"We're delighted," said BAGLY Executive Director Grace Sterling Stowell. "I was excited to see BAGLY on the list and also very excited to see MTPC and Mass Equality there because we work so closely together."

"It is such a great honor to be acknowledged that way," affirmed Mass Equality Executive Director Kara Suffredini.

"It's pretty cool," echoed Gunner Scott, Executive Director of Mass Transgender Political Coalition. "I really wasn't expecting it."

Philanthropedia, and its parent organization, Guidestar, are dedicated to bringing transparency to the workings of nonprofits, improving the way they function and enabling donors to make educated decisions on which organizations are best for them. They have created top nonprofit and top charity lists for causes from environmental issues and disaster relief to reproductive rights to education to homelessness and everything in between.

"We know that finding the nonprofits that are really having an impact can be daunting," said Andrews. "If you care about LGBT issues, our top experts have highlighted the nonprofits making the most gains for the community."

These top-ranked Boston based nonprofits have all had enormous success both in individual endeavors as well as great collaborative feats. BAGLY teamed up with Fenway Health and JRI Health last year and opened its first sexual health clinic where people under 29 can obtain free HIV and STI screenings.

Mass Equality was a huge proponent of the first-ever statewide bill on unaccompanied homeless youth. MTPC saw great success with their Trans People Speak campaign (previously featured in EDGE), but their biggest victory of 2012 was the passing of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill.

This monumental accomplishment was supported by each of the three organizations above and many other LGBT nonprofits in Massachusetts.

"There are very few LGBT organizations we don't work with," said Stowell. "Our working so closely helps each group to accomplish goals and carry out missions."

Suffredini agreed, noting that the cooperation with one another is why these NPOs have been so effective and why so many historic firsts have come out of Massachusetts.

"The fact is we all recognize that each organization brings another area of expertise and strength. In this way, we work very well collaboratively," said Scott, who hopes that being on this list will bring more attention and funding to the trans movement which, he said, has long been left out of the greater LGBT movement.

"It shows when you are given resources to do work you really can thrive," said Scott.

Looking forward, MTPC along with Mass Equality and BAGLY will be pushing to further the current Trans Equal Rights Bill by seeking passage of the Equal Access in Public Accommodations Act. This would ensure fair and equal treatment for trans people in hospitals, hotels, retail stores, public transportation, and all other places open to the public.

Suffredini said that Mass Equality will also be focusing, in 2013, on things like stronger anti-bullying laws and LGBT Aging.

"We don't want the pioneers of this movement to have to go back in the closet," she said. "And working with the partners we've worked with, we should be able to get several of these things accomplished."

Stowell, who shares this accolade with the youth and adult advisors that work with BAGLY, said she looks forward to continuing to work with and support LGBT youth.

They also are all hoping that being ranked in the top tier of high-impact local nonprofits will help their respective organizations with reputation and funding. Scott says that MTPC saw an increase in donations the week that the Philanthropedia list was released. He's hoping that this will continue and that trans activists around the country will be inspired to take action and form their own groups and organizations.

"It's an important resource and tool for donors to be able to go to GuideStar and see how their money is being put to use," said Suffredini, who notes that 70 cents per every dollar donated to Mass Equality goes directly to the cause. "We're hoping this will get folks energized."

While BAGLY, Mass Equality and MTPC each have a unique central focus, they all agree that the strong community in Boston and in Massachusetts has aided in the victories they've accomplished.

"We're not as big as New York or Chicago or San Francisco, but we are big enough to have a significant impact," said Stowell. "It really speaks to the strength of the LGBT community in Boston.