A new directory of organizations that directly fund and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Metro Vancouver is now live and ready for download on Sher Vancouver’s website. And the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is proud to have played a critical role in Sher Vancouver’s Pink Directory through its WIL Digital program.
“Sher’s Pink Directory is a big success! It’s really a unique project that’s never, to my knowledge, been done before. This community now has a very valuable resource that is a free download for everyone,” says Alex Sangha, founder of Sher Vancouver, a not-for-profit that supports LGBTQ South Asians and their friends and families.
Sher Vancouver has been helping reduce the alienation and discrimination of people dealing with sexuality, gender and coming-out issues for over 12 years. The grassroots organization provides counselling, peer support, education and outreach services, all of which costs time and money. Sangha knows firsthand how hard it can be for queer non-profits to secure sustainable funding.
“The queer community is relatively isolated and marginalized,” Sangha says.
Many corporations, governments, and other provincial and federal funders skirt LGBTQ programs in favour of less controversial or political causes. Searching for the willing can put an onerous strain on not-for-profits and their limited resources.
This challenge gave birth to the idea of an LGBTQ+ funders and supporters directory. Despite Sher Vancouver’s relatively long history and high profile in the Vancouver area, the organization is in the same boat of limited resources. So in considering this project, Sangha reached out to ICTC’s WIL Digital for help in hiring a tech-savvy student.
“We would never have been able to get it off the ground [without WIL Digital] because of the amount of work that went into it. You have to pay for somebody to do all that work,” Sangha says.
The intern Sangha chose for Sher’s Pick Directory was Janice Lu, a then second-year law student at UBC. Lu is well-versed in social issues and not-for-profit work. Lu has helped homeless people apply for photo identification, launched a transgender program to help people change their gender identification, and worked with Sher Vancouver in the past.
This summer, amid the turmoil of COVID, Lu had a formidable task ahead of her—or rather some 300 tasks.
Lu used a third-party digital outreach platform to email about 300 potential funding sponsors, supporters, and friends of the LGBTQ+ community, pitching them on inclusion into the directory. Lu collected the information of those that agreed, arranged for vetting of the organization profile write-ups, and compiled that information into a 47-page digital directory that was made beautiful by local Vancouver graphic designer, Jaskamal Singh.
“The most difficult part was getting people to reply to you,” Lu says. “You have to follow-up and follow-up and follow-up.”
Of the 300 organizations canvassed, 60 ended up in Sher’s Pink Directory. Sangha considers this an outstanding result considering that “if I were to do this project 20 years ago, I would be lucky to get that many organizations wanting to be listed in the directory.”
Times a’ changing
In 2020, some 60 organizations participated in Sher’s Pink Directory. In two or three years when the directory is refreshed, that number stands to grow, as some of the organizations that passed on this round say, “Hey we want to be part of that!”
Lu notes that, even now, a lot of organizations that wouldn’t seem like obvious supporters of the LGBTQ+ community are allies in the Sher’s Pink Directory.
“So I think we’re clearing the path for other fellow organizations to know that they are welcome,” Lu says.
Sangha seconds that thought, saying he wants to celebrate the organizations that really came through for the project, which includes some of Canada’s biggest and most influential corporations, such as RBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group, Vancity, and other financial institutions; numerous city, provincial, and federal government bodies; other charities and foundations, including The Vancouver Foundation and Sage Foundation; unions; Indigenous groups; scholarships and awards….
In fact, too many to note in a summary, so check out all of Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community friends and allies of the LGBTQ+ community here.
In the Midst of COVID-19
A particularly interesting category in the Sher’s Pink Directory is the Non-Financial Support section. Here you find medical organizations, public libraries, an all-female rock band that performs at queer events, and the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
“One of my favourites is Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which is an order of 21st century queer nuns who do events and weddings and ceremonies. They add colour and excitement to the LGBTQ+ community,” Sangha says.
In the midst of COVID-19, Sher Vancouver continues to receive accolades and positive feedback on Sher’s Pink Directory, with many people saying, “This couldn’t come out at a better time.”
(Learn more about ICTC’s WIL Digital here.)