Guiding a US-Based Foundation into New Geographies

Client’s Challenge:

One of the world’s largest LGBT rights foundations turned to Tedstrom Associates in 2013 to help them decide whether and how to become involved in the global reaction to Russia’s passage of anti-LGBT laws. The foundation had a history of making grants and then fading into the background but felt it wanted to be more engaged and “out front” on this issue. And while the organization had done extensive work in other parts of the world, it wanted to launch its Russia work in a way that inspired and encouraged others. And it needed to avoid the risks inherent in working on a delicate issue in a complex country.

Our Solution:

Tedstrom Associates worked with the CEO and his team to develop a strategy that identified achievable goals and generated a series of recommendations concerning programs, projects, and partnerships. Once the foundation’s board approved this strategy, Tedstrom Associates advised the foundation on grantees and partners and was asked to coach several of the external partners as they implemented their projects. These projects involved advocacy outreach to the International Olympic Committee, diplomacy with the European Commission and several national governments, and the creation of a celebrity advocacy campaign led by Melissa Etheridge.

Tedstrom Associates also worked as a liaison between the foundation and senior officials at the White House, U.S. State Department and USAID. We also conceived, helped design and facilitated a major convening of Russian, European and U.S. foundations and activist organizations in New York in September 2013, which brought all the key international players to the table to coordinate and harmonize goals, strategies and tactics.

Tedstrom Associates also served as a trusted intermediary between the corporate community and LGBT groups as they sought to raise corporate awareness and understanding of the problem from the LGBT perspective.

Result:

Our client established itself as a major player in the LGBT response to Russia’s discriminatory legislation and was able to avoid pitfalls and risks associated with working on a politically volatile issue in a challenging country like Russia. The client was very satisfied with the role it played and the boost to its reputation among partners new and old. The celebrity advocacy campaign continues to operate and has expanded its geographic footprint.