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Dear SpeakOUT Supporter,

The last nine months have presented unprecedented challenges for everyone. As an organization that thrives on personal interactions with audiences, our ability to provide exceptional in-person speaking engagements was weakened by COVID restrictions that shut down nearly all of our clients in March. Our programs were hampered for several months as clients figured out how to function remotely and decided whether online engagements would work for them.

Like many other nonprofit organizations, and like many of you, we’ve had to find ways to adapt and survive. As a small grassroots organization, our budget is extremely sensitive to outside forces; we have no cushion or “rainy day fund.” Even now, after we’ve successfully pivoted to online formats, the volume of engagements has not returned to normal.

Because of this shortfall, we need to raise $15,000 in this year-end appeal. It is no exaggeration to say that this year’s fundraising effort is the most critical one in our 45+ year history, and will determine the future of the organization in a very concrete way.

We know that many other nonprofits, local businesses, and even family and friends are no doubt on your list of charitable causes this year; be assured that your gift to SpeakOUT will have a major impact.

While that may all sound grim, we’re also optimistic that with your help we can put SpeakOUT on the path to sustainability. Because, despite this huge disruption to our programs, we have already successfully explored ways to do our work more effectively:

  • This past summer we sought to support LGBTQ+ youth programs looking to keep their members connected to each other. We led online workshops for youth in the Boston GLASS program, enhancing their public speaking skills and helping them build the confidence to share their stories.
  • In October, we held our first Online Speaker Training in a new two-day Zoom format that maintained our strong personal approach while preparing speakers from Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, thus expanding our training reach beyond our home state.
  • Our new online engagement formats allow us to present to businesses and reach their employees both throughout the U.S. and abroad. We plan to continue offering online engagements in the post-COVID world to further expand our corporate audiences beyond the Greater Boston area.
  • We continued to support graduating high school students through our LGBTQ+ Scholarship Program. We were very proud to award scholarships to three students and help them realize their higher education dreams; all three are now enrolled in their first year at college! For 2021, the fourth year of the scholarship, we already have a donor who has committed to supporting a scholarship specifically for transgender students and nonbinary students of color.

We are fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteer speakers sharing personal experiences with a wide range of audiences to create safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people. From college students who want to make life better for queer youth, to teachers who are role models within their own school systems, to political leaders who are trailblazers in legislatures, to retirees who’ve spent their lives working for social justice, SpeakOUT speakers showcase the strong diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

In October, we asked SpeakOUT members to share their stories again for National Coming Out Day. Each of their insights is unique and illustrates the power of SpeakOUT’s ability to combat prejudice against LGBTQ+ people and others through personal storytelling. Our speakers have a wide range of experiences and a passion for leading sensitive discussions to open minds and change attitudes. Here’s how two of our speakers described what it means to them to be part of SpeakOUT:

“I didn’t grow up knowing anyone in the trans community. I didn’t know if I would be accepted by my family, by the world. Coming out meant starting over as my authentic self. Coming out was terrifying because it was a step into the unknown. SpeakOUT is helping to create a world of visible LGBTQ+ role models, amazing people with unique stories, opening hearts and minds one engagement at a time. I’m lucky to be able to contribute my story.”

“Coming out as an only child in an Asian household was difficult, especially since I grew up with few LGBTQ role models and peers. Today, I’m proud to be part of the SpeakOUT family, a community where I can both lean on and support others.”

SpeakOUT needs your support today. We’re optimistic about 2021, but first we need to make up for losses in 2020. Please consider making a substantial gift this year—possibly doubling what you’ve given in the past—to sustain our work. But no matter what amount you’re able to give, know that your support today will directly improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people during these challenging times.

Make your tax-deductible donation today by making an online donation. You can make a one-time gift or become a monthly or quarterly donor. With positive energy in the air after the election, we look forward to uplifting LGBTQ+ voices in the new year!

Sincerely,

Ellyn Ruthstrom

Executive Director

P.S. For a gift of $100 or more, we’ll send you one of our #ProudStories t-shirts with our rainbow-colored mohawk-wearing speaker graphic. Or you can order one for $25 on its own!

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