Alarm as SA’s oldest LGBTI organisation faces closure


triangle_project_oldest_lgbti_group_faces_closureCape Town’s Triangle Project, the longest-running LGBTI organisation in South Africa, is facing a dire financial crisis and needs your help to survive.

First established in 1981 under the name of GASA 6010, Triangle today offers health and other support services to LGBTI people throughout the Western Cape, with a dedicated seven-member team.

Alarmingly, the organisation’s very existence is now at risk after it revealed that it is “experiencing a severe cash flow crisis” as the pool of funds available to NGOs continues to shrink.

“Due to a lack of funds, Triangle might have to close at the end of October 2015. This means that vital services to the LGBTI community and an essential voice in the struggle for equality will be lost,” it said.

According to Elsbeth Engelbrecht, who was appointed Director of Triangle last month, funding has been an ongoing problem for almost five years.

“For example, there has been no cost of living salary increases for four years,” she told Mambaonline. “That staff has remained with the organisation is a miracle, and speaks to the dedication of every staff member.”

In recent years, a number of LGBTI groups or projects, such as the Out in African Film Festival and Behind the Mask, have been forced to close as international funding has dried up, with limited local donor or community support stepping up to take its place. Also, funding has largely moved away from LGBTI rights to more HIV-focused programmes.

Engelbrecht said she was aware of at least eight other South African organisations that are going through similar challenges, and that, “Many people do not realise how many civil society organisations – even established ones with active programmes – are in a constant struggle in a constrained funding environment.”

She agreed that, unlike in the US, members of the local LGBTI community have traditionally failed to financially support their NGOs. Engelbrecht commented that, “South Africans generally do not have a strong culture of social giving and the LGBTI community is no different in terms of general philanthropy trends in South Africa.”

She added that Triangle hopes to be more proactive in engaging the broader LGBTI community for funding support, something which she admitted it has neglected to do in the past.

As part of this bid to stave off closure, the organisation recently created the #SaveTriangle campaign, urging the community to help it survive and make a donation online.

“We have been encouraged by a small number of people who have come forward to not only donate their own money but to organise fundraisers,” said Engelbrecht, citing September’s LGBTI Open, a Cape Town-based tennis tournament that donates its proceeds to charity.

“What we would really like LGBTI people to take from this is that they are empowered to fundraise and advocate and that keeping organisations like Triangle going doesn’t only have to involve writing a cheque,” she explained.

In addition to its #SaveTriangle campaign, Triangle is also establishing a small scale corporate fundraising strategy and hopes that LGBTI businesses in particular will offer their backing.

“And of course we keep working with and writing grant proposals to our usual donors, who have been supporting Triangle for years,” said Engelbrecht.

Among its achievements, Triangle was the first organisation to offer HIV and general health services targeted at LGBTI people. It also provides counselling and support services for LGBTI people, with a seven-day-a-week helpline (021 712 6699).

It has set up more than 15 “safe spaces” for LGBTI people across the Western Cape – especially in townships and in rural towns where LGBTI people are at increased risk for violence. Hate crimes are also a focus for the group which monitors LGBTI-related court cases, and offers support to victims and their families.

We urge you to help keep one of our iconic LGBTI organisations up and running. To assist Triangle Project, click here. Every donation will help.

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