In October 2021, as part of our commitment to help the sector hear the voices of under-represented communities, nfpSynergy ran a second round of quantitative research with 1,000 individuals in Britain who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and nonbinary. This follows our first round of research with the LGBTQ+ community that took place in July 2020, which you can read about here.
We know that individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are integral stakeholders for charities as donors, volunteers, campaigners, service users and more, but they are also under-researched and under-represented. We wanted to learn what this audience thinks about charities, and what their priorities are. Here are three stand out findings from the latest research…
1. Mental health is clearly of huge importance to those impacted by inequality
In our Charity Awareness Monitor tracking research we regularly ask the general public to think about which categories their favourite charities fall into. We decided to ask our LGBTQ+ sample the same question to enable us to see any differences between these audiences. Interestingly, mental health is the cause where we see the biggest disparity between the percentage of the general public who name this as one of their favourites, and the percentage of our LGBTQ+ sample who say the same. Among the general public mental health is our 5th placed favourite cause, with 19% saying it is one of their favourites. However, mental health is much more favoured by our LGBTQ+ sample, appearing in the top 3, with 36% saying it is one of their favourites. Interestingly, in a piece of research conducted with minority ethnic audiences earlier this year, we saw a similar percentage of our sample felt the same, with 37% saying mental health was one of their favourite causes.
Another illustration of just how much of a priority mental health is for LGBTQ+ audiences is that over 70% agree that ‘not enough is being done to address the root causes of mental health problems, like racism, homophobia and poverty’. This strong emphasis on mental health perhaps comes as no surprise when we take into account that a whopping 55% of our LGBTQ+ sample said that they themselves have personally experienced anxiety or depression.
2. Our LGBTQ+ sample places little trust in the Government
Another interesting question we ask our respondents is how much trust they have in a range of prominent public institutions. Trust in charities has remained consistent since our 2020 round of LGBTQ+ research and is in line with the levels we see among the general public (around 60% trust charities ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’). However, one institution that LGBTQ+ audiences trust significantly less compared to the general public is the Government (the same applies for the Armed Forces and multinational companies). While 36% of the general public said they trusted the Government, this figure fell to 26% among our LGBTQ+ sample. Likewise, just 29% agreed with the statement ‘I trust the Government to protect LGBTQ+ rights’ vs. 40% who disagreed. Trust in government is especially low among females/trans females and the C1 social grade.
3. Charities can do more to be seen as advocates of the LGBTQ+ community
Almost half of our sample (47%) agree that ‘some charities are homophobic’, while only 28% agree that ‘charities are staunch supporters of the LGBTQ+ community’. The perception that some charities are homophobic is especially prevalent among younger audiences, with 6 in 10 of those aged between 16-24 who identify as LGBTQ+ agreeing that some charities are homophobic. Those who have a closer relationship to charities (donors and regular volunteers) are also more likely to agree with the statement. We know that, generally speaking, many charities are trying hard to advance the equality and inclusion of LGBTQ+ communities. Yet it is true that this audience still faces significant barriers when it comes to full participation in public life, and charities are no exception to this.
This research has given us fascinating insight into the perceptions of LGBTQ+ audiences when thinking about charities and key public institutions. Some of the statistics are truly eye-opening, and they help us to better understand the feelings of exclusion and difficulties experienced by people who identify LGBTQ+ in many areas of their lives. For instance, 1 in 10 people among the sample were yet to come out to anyone, while less than half had done so to their colleagues. There is clearly a lot more work to be done, and charities will continue to play a vital role in making sure all minority audiences are included and empowered to live their lives to full potential.