PlanetRomeo Foundation hereby presents its strategic plan for 2017-2020. PlanetRomeo Foundation is an independent, registered non-profit established in 2009 to contribute to the fight for equal rights and opportunities for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people. With the support of PlanetRomeo BV, the company behind ROMEO, the Foundation is uniquely placed to draw strength from one of the largest online platforms.
PlanetRomeo Foundation provides funding up to € 5,000 to grassroots emerging LGBTI projects and initiatives in countries and regions where LGBTI rights are most severely infringed. Over the last 7 years, the Foundation funded 130 projects in 59 different countries, adding up to a total amount of over € 500,000 in funding. PlanetRomeo Foundation established itself as an accessible and recognized funding partner for both its funded initiatives and the international LGBTI funding field.
Although our results make us proud, there is so much more to do, and we see this new strategic plan as an opportunity to further develop and enhance our funding policy and strategies. For this purpose, the Management Board held a two-day evaluation session in the fall of 2016. In this session, we further defined our goals and made new choices for our strategy, funding policy, priority themes and fundraising goals. At the same time, continuous effort is being made to retain a balance between further growth and maintaining the highest attainable quality in all aspects of our work. This strategic plan gives an overview of the choices we have made.
Depending on definitions, up to 77 countries still criminalize homosexuality and/or same sex behavior. Punishments range from fines to the death penalty. Every day, all around the world, LGBTI people face bullying, discrimination, exclusion, violence, imprisonment and even execution.The last few years we have also seen growing instability and political changes in an increasing number of regions and countries. As a consequence, for millions of LGBTI people, equal rights and social acceptance are a far cry from reality, and subject to an ongoing, often intensifying struggle.
Organizing activities that contribute to better lives for LGBTI people, and positive change in hostile environments, not only takes a lot of courage, but also requires time, capacity and resources. PlanetRomeo Foundation supports the fight for LGBTI equality by funding activities and projects initiated by brave, emerging, local LGBTI individuals, initiatives and communities in countries and regions where it is needed most.
Vision and Mission
PlanetRomeo Foundation envisions a world without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics; a world in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people have the same rights and opportunities as anyone else; a world which values and respects differences in sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
Our support focuses on achieving societal change in order to improve the position of LGBTI people throughout the world, with an emphasis on the most disadvantaged regions and communities. We also focus on mobilizing and activating the LGBTI community in those challenging contexts. We do not initiate projects ourselves, and we set out to be a stepping stone and fill funding gaps between zero funding and access to larger grants.
In the 2016 self-evaluation session, the Foundation assessed its funding strategy. This chapter gives an overview of the evaluation of both our priority themes and funding policy.
Evaluating our funding themes
With regard to the funding themes, the following conclusions were drawn:
- Safety & Shelter
Although the Management Board is pleased with the overall results of its funded Safety & Shelter projects, we concluded that the theme formulation itself is too vague, specifically the Safety part. Moreover, Safety has in recent years increasingly become the domain of other LGBTI funding organizations. For these reasons, it has been decided to not give priority to Safety in the coming years. Depending on the context, Safety can still be considered an important sub-topic. Therefore, safety aspects may still be included in a funding proposal focused on Shelter. The theme has been renamed to Shelter, putting focus on providing basic needs in terms of shelter and refuge. The revised description of Shelter can be found under ‘Funding themes 2017-2020’.
Looking back on the listing of projects funded under this theme, the Board concluded that Education is a catchall theme, containing a very wide range of project activities. We found this theme to be undefined and lacking focus. Also, it appeared to be difficult to set clear measurable project goals or to monitor project output and results. In addition, we concluded that many other LGBTI funders focus on educational aspects. Therefore, it has been decided to discontinue this theme.
- Sports & Culture
We have concluded that Sports & Culture projects can play an important role in the start of LGBTI community development, especially in those countries where LGBTI social acceptation is low or non-existent. We also concluded that the Foundation fills a niche with the Sports & Culture theme, because these kinds of projects are rarely supported by other LGTBTI funders. Consequently, this theme will remain unchanged.
Evaluating our funding policy
The Management Board also reviewed the Foundation’s funding policy and decided to maintain the greater part of the existing policy. As it is functioning well, we will implement minor adjustments and additions. Please see ‘Funding policy 2017-2020’ below for an overview.
Funding themes 2017-2020
PlanetRomeo Foundation supports emerging and new initiatives under three themes. These themes aim to support the creation of a secure environment for LGBTI people, that will enable them to feel safe, be themselves, and connect with others.
Every day, all around the world, LGBTI people suffer from bullying, discrimination, exclusion, violence, imprisonment, even execution, and are generally at risk for their safety and their lives. PlanetRomeo Foundation supports initiatives that provide (temporary) basic Shelter facilities for LGBTI people, especially in those countries and regions where their safety and wellbeing is most at risk. Shelters can provide around the clock support (including sleeping facilities) and/or offer shelter and support during the day or specific time slots. Activities taking place in or attached to the shelter, that further support LGBTI people making use of the shelter, can be eligible too.
Sports & Culture
PlanetRomeo Foundation sees Sports & Culture as a starting point for change in other aspects and areas of LGBTI people’s lives. Projects and initiatives under this theme are only eligible for funding in countries or regions where they play an essential and distinctive role in building, connecting and mobilizing LGBTI communities, or making them more visible. To be eligible, Sports & Culture projects must be more than just a sports or cultural event. They must be utilized as a ‘safe’ entry point to do more and achieve other things, e.g. empowerment, workshops, training, public awareness and/or other activities.
PlanetRomeo Foundation supports (initial) essential steps in community formation and organizing. These steps are crucial to the process of empowerment and a prerequisite to further community development and activism, and building critical mass to evoke change. Community Organizing focuses on joint efforts, not personal development.
The Foundation aims to fund initiatives at an ignition point, where LGBTI people come together to organize themselves in the interest of their communities and to develop common goals. Community Organizing can take place offline and online.
Offline community organizing examples are community gatherings, as a starting point of LGBTI community/movement building, community workshops, etc. Online community organizing focuses on means through which LGBTI community members can chat, share, exchange, find information, receive counseling online, especially in regions and countries where ‘offline’ community gatherings are impossible or dangerous. Under our new theme Community Organizing, proposals regarding LGBTI people and their (chosen) families may also be eligible for funding.
Funding policy 2017-2020
Projects that are eligible for funding
In its funding policy, the Foundation gives high priority to small-scale projects which are initiated and implemented by the LGBTI community itself and/or by emerging LGBTI groups and initiatives. The projects must aim to involve, empower and mobilize the community. The Foundation will fund two categories of emerging initiatives:
- Initiatives of (relatively) new informal LGBTI groups or organizations with little or no access to other sources of funding;
- More experienced LGBTI organizations that develop new initiatives for which they have not yet previously received funding and are difficult to fund elsewhere.
Projects may target sub-communities, e.g. lesbian and/or gay and/or bisexual and/or trans and/or intersex communities.
The Foundation does not fund initiatives by non-LGBTI allies, however it does support initiatives aimed at fostering and improving the direct (chosen) family environment of LGBTIs and/or encourages the connection of and interaction between LGBTI (chosen) families.
In its efforts to support small-scale and community based projects, the Foundation strives for a balance between accessibility, quality and maintaining a good standard in project accountability. Criteria that will be taken into account in the assessment process are:
- quality of the project proposal;
- how realistic the approach is;
- foreseen impact;
- degree to which the proposal is complementary to existing services and/or activities.
The Foundation makes use of its own network of independent regional specialists to cross-reference applicants. This network will be further expanded if and when necessary. Organizations can receive a one-off grant, ranging from € 500 to € 5,000, payed in installments.
Although all geographical regions are eligible, the Foundation gives priority to countries outside the Global North, which we define as European Union member states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States of America.
Within a country, all geographical areas are eligible, but where we can, we give priority to rural and/or more remote areas. The Foundation will strive to maintain a balance between regions, between countries within a region and between areas within a country.
Projects that do not qualify for funding
PlanetRomeo Foundation will not fund project proposals that have primarily political or religious aims. An exception can be made for initiatives in countries and regions where religious institutions are interlinked with, and are in support of local, LGBTI communities or aim to challenge the religious opposition, e.g. religious institutions or individuals who (severely) undermine LGBTI rights.
The Foundation does not provide emergency funding, as this is the domain of other funders and requires very specific policies and expertise. The Foundation will not support commercial organizations and projects where financial profit is a goal. Funding proposals that focus primarily on overhead costs, running costs, fundraising costs or activities aimed solely at promoting an organization, are not eligible for funding.
The Foundation will also not fund proposals:
- from individuals for study, travel and/or living costs;
- with a therapeutic aim (group or individual);
- aimed solely or mostly at advocacy activities and/or establishing gay/straight alliances;
- set up as a social and/or dating platform or that clearly overlap with them;
- regarding travel and accommodation or outreach programs for participating in (inter)national tournaments;
- aimed at supporting art for art’s sake or supporting individual artists;
- that have previously received a grant by the Foundation;
- for which co-funding is requested, without clarification which part of the budget is requested from the Foundation, or without specifying the status of the other funding sources;
- that are submitted in a language other than English.
Vision on growth
The Foundation is determined to further increase its impact over the coming years. In order to achieve this, maintaining a balance between the project budget available, the number and quality of the funding proposals and the organization’s capacity is essential. Our vision of growth provides a brief outlook on these factors and how they interact.
Available project budget
PlanetRomeo Foundation receives an annual donation from PlanetRomeo BV. PlanetRomeo BV makes this decision on an annual basis. For 2017, an annual donation between € 120,000 and € 150,000 is expected, however not guaranteed. Additionally, the Foundation acquires third-party donations, with PLANETROMEO members as its main, but not only target group. For more information on our fundraising strategy, see ‘Fundraising strategy’ below. In 2017, the Foundation will have approximately € 175,000 available for project funding. The Foundation aims for an annual growth of € 25,000 per year.
Number of funding proposals received
The Foundation receives a number of quality funding proposals each quarterly review cycle. This number has grown substantially in the last four years. In 2015 and 2016, an average of 140 funding proposals per year were received, compared to an average of 90 proposals the years before. This is an increase of almost 60%. Over the years, the percentage of proposals funded remained at a level of approximately 24%, with an average amount of € 4,400 granted. The Foundation sets out to effectuate an increase in the quality of funding proposals. In order to achieve this, communication efforts will be increased to target potential initiatives eligible for grants. Please see ‘Communication’ below for an overview of these efforts.
The Foundation Management Board currently consists of 4 members, but will expand to at least 5 members. Being volunteers, there is a limit to the work load, and consequently, the number of funding proposals that can be reviewed each quarterly cycle. This is another reason to strive for quality over quantity regarding the number of funding proposals we receive.
The Foundation receives organizational support from PlanetRomeo BV, via an in-kind donation. Also, the Management Board is supported by the Supervisory Board, consisting of 4 members.
PlanetRomeo Foundation wants to establish a continuous income flow that sufficiently warrants its funding activities. As mentioned in chapter 5, the Foundation aims at a steady growth of its annual available project budget by € 25,000 per year out of its fundraising efforts, with approximately € 175,000 available in 2017.
Currently, our sources of income are PlanetRomeo BV and third party donors (PLANETROMEO members and other groups in the LGBTI community). In December 2016, the Foundation launched its revised donate page. This page was developed according to the latest industry standards, is optimized for mobile devices, and contains all current local payment options. This is an essential tool to realize our fundraising ambitions.
The Foundation maintains a good relationship with PlanetRomeo BV, owner and operator of PLANETROMEO. PlanetRomeo BV sees PlanetRomeo Foundation as an important and significant asset in its corporate social responsibility strategy. PlanetRomeo BV has expressed a willingness to continue providing financial support to the Foundation, for which the Management Board is very grateful. As mentioned before, PlanetRomeo BV intends to make a donation of an amount between € 120,000 and € 150,000 in 2017. Additionally, an in-kind donation will be continued for organizational support of the Foundation.
With a community of almost 2 million members worldwide, PLANETROMEO members represent crucial fundraising potential. With the new donate page, it will be possible to target all members, regardless of being desktop computer and/or mobile device users. Late 2016, an awareness and fundraising campaign was launched as part of our ongoing effort to mobilize this community and connect them to the Foundation. PLANETROMEO members have the option of adding a Foundation Supporter Badge on their profile, after donating to the Foundation, to show their support to other members. Consequently, this badge links back to the donate page. The Foundation is determined to further tap into the donating potential of PLANETROMEO members in the coming years.
With the new donate page, the Foundation is now also equipped to target any other potential donor group. Given the fact that the abovementioned PLANETROMEO community almost exclusively consists of (gay and bisexual) men, the Foundation also has ambitions to expand fundraising efforts to the wider LGBTI community. In the coming years, our fundraising strategy will be further developed regarding our third-party donations.
‘For the community, by the community’ is at the core of our work and we constantly attempt to actively engage the LGBTI community towards our goals. Wherever possible and necessary, the Foundation aims to further strengthen our connection to the communities we serve. This will not be limited to keeping communities updated about our activities or only ask for a financial contribution. Communication with LGBTI communities will also include involving the community in making suggestions and prioritizing initiatives for funding. The Foundation aims to further develop and intensify our communication with LGBTI communities at the receiving and giving end around the world, over the coming years.
Website, social media and newsletters
The Foundation provides news and information about our activities primarily via our website, planetromeofoundation.org and Facebook. To update donors who are also PLANETROMEO members, the Foundation has permission to inform them with direct messages via the PLANETROMEO platform. LinkedIn updates are a means to connect the Foundation with our corporate network. In the first half of 2017, we are planning to release a new Foundation website. This will also mark the start of dispatching our quarterly newsletters. An opt-in newsletter subscription is available both via the Foundation website and the ‘Thank You’ landing page after making a donation.
As mentioned before, we will continue and increase our efforts to ensure a quality increase of funding proposals. To this end, an updated version of the e-brochure, containing the Foundation’s funding strategy and conditions for funding, will be distributed among the Foundation’s wide network. Also, the funding request form will be revised and fine-tuned. The new Foundation website will also introduce an eligibility scan for potential grantees.
PlanetRomeo Foundation intends to build lasting relationships with other organizations funding LGBTI issues. Contacts with like-minded organizations on a regular basis will mutually benefit quality improvement. These contacts will have a positive influence on the Foundation’s development, and will keep us in check about our funding policy and our added value. This is particularly important to us as we strive to fill funding gaps. Maintaining external contacts will also contribute to raising our visibility and our profile.
Asset and overhead management
The asset management of PlanetRomeo Foundation is in line with both the fiscal guidelines for Dutch registered charities (ANBI – Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling) and those set by the Dutch Fundraising Organization (Centraal Bureau Fondsenwerving). This implies, among others, that the total cost the Foundation makes for carrying out its objectives does not exceed a quarter of its annual income. In fact, our overhead is much lower than 25%.
In accordance with Dutch guidelines on annual reporting for fundraising organizations (Richtlijn 650), 10% of the total annual income is being donated to a continuity reserve. This is to ensure that the Foundation will be able to meet its future financial obligations. In determining the volume of this reserve, the guidelines of Richtlijn 650 will be leading, together with recommendations by our accountant. In case of discontinuation, the eventual positive balance will be used for funding purposes in line with the objectives of the Foundation.
PlanetRomeo Foundation aims to maintain its operational costs at the lowest level possible. We aim for a rate of maximum of 10% of our annual income. For 2017, this rate will be an estimated 6%.