Like a small business that frames its first dollar bill behind the counter, your funding most likely will be hard-fought (and well worth it).

How to think about funding

  • Here are the expenses that most ERGs will need to to be successful:

    ● Swag: Techies love free shirts or other wearables! Enable your company to wear your colors loud and proud by releasing shirts during Pride month. It’s an easy way to boost visibility, and again, a great way to attract diverse talent.

    ● Marketing and promotion: Think collateral. Paper, printing, flyers, invitations, that your company doesn’t provide for free. Also- if we may be so bold- a Graphic Designer for a logo, and/or pro photographers for big events!

    ● Food and beverage: Snacks, pizza, White Claws, Strawberry Nesquik? Remember to regularly ask about dietary restrictions and allergies (last 3 are out for us!)

    ● Venue rentals: These only apply if you’re looking to throw large events or your office cannot accommodate events – not a great use of funding, if you can avoid it. For meetings, try to score an empty conference room, or take it outside to a cafe or bar across the street.

  • Use your Mission Statement (oh yeah, that thing!) to inform your programming.

    Depending on your mission, this can include any and all of these types of events and more:

    ● Low-key hangs in the office

    ● Lunchtime socials

    ● Offsite happy hours

    ● Off-site hangs with ERGs from other companies

    ● Field trips or off-site socials

    ● Educational Panels

    ● Volunteer opps

    ● Company-wide LGBTQ events

    ● Conferences and networking events

    ● Fireside chats, speaker panels

    ● Variety shows, talent shows, company-wide games

    ● Movie screenings and performances

  • Next, think about how many folks are in your ERG, and what is required for each member to fully partake in the activities you have in mind.

    Beyond the aforementioned, keep these common expense-types top of mind:

    ● Tickets and special event fees

    ● Transportation

    ● Lodging (if you’re thinking really fancy)

    ● Speaker / external participant fees

    ● Recognition programs, a little goes a long way here (e.g., leadership awards, b-day cards)

How to pursue ERG funding

  • Ah! The F word! The question on everyone’s lips!

    We wish there was one universal funding model, and that we could wave our magic wand and get funds for you. But sadly, all companies are different. And depending on size, valuation, and company funding series, this varies widely.

    Top tips:

    ● Strength in numbers: Galvanize and organize as many interested potential members, as possible

    ● Be politically savvy: Meet with HR and the execs, and use empathy to understand what ROI looks like for them

    ● Make the business case: You’ll never get in trouble by presenting a carefully crafted, precise plan for how you’ll spend the funding


  • This may sound daunting, but Out in Tech believes in you!

    The evidence is in your favor — so many startups have obtained larger budgets over time and blossomed into beautiful and impactful communities. Have faith, and rest assured that everything you’re asking for is valid, precedented, and amazing.


    ● Draft a mission statement and core values

    ● Determine programming

    ● Galvanize interested parties

    ● Compose budget

    ● Meet with CEO or execs

    ● Pitch ideas and ask for feedback, answers, and follow-up session on a specific date

    💡 Q-Tip: We recommend to first make a generous Plan A budget (aka nice to have) that accounts for essentials, plus bells and whistles, like swag and food. Then, after making a comprehensive budget, have a Plan B budget (aka need to have) on the ready.

  • The key to gaining funding lies in the strength of your business proposition:

    ● You should think your budget is reasonable. If you don’t, they probably won’t

    ● Size of support surrounding ERG culture

    ● Demonstrating understanding of what frameworks are already in place for ERGs (e.g., D&I department or HR professional who is willing to support this?)

    💡 HR-Tip: New ERGs are born at any time, depending on passion, bandwidth and opportunity. If there’s a boon, propose instituting a FY-synced lifecycle calendar for ERG budget proposals, to reduce incremental asks, and approve all budgets simultaneously.

  • CEO + executive buy-in:

    It’s highly likely that taking the time to work on your Mission Statement, Core Values, and budget will yield better results if you’re able to get the ear(s) of your leadership team. It shows you’re invested, prepared, and know what the heck you’re doing (well, sometimes anyway…)

Compensation for extra work

  • If you haven’t pieced it together by now, running an ERG can be a lot of work. (But worth it, mind you). So are there opportunities for co-leads to get paid for all of this organizing?

    The answer is: mayhaps.

    Once again, this depends on the size of your company, how D&I and culture is valued, and on CEO and exec buy-in.

    For example, in 2018, household name companies like Uber gave $1,000 – $5,000 stipends to their ERG Leaders annually. Whereas, budget looked different for startups and mid-size companies. Talk to HR. Ask what structures exist, and whether they’re open to a conversation.

  • What If We’re Asked To Conduct A D&I / Unconscious Bias Training?

    As blooming cultural stakeholders and subject matter experts, higher-ups might ask you to run a D&I or unconscious bias training. Our advice? Consult an experienced external trainer or D&I professional.

    Let’s be crystal clear here — this is hardly because we doubt your grit, knowledge, and GIF game as a budding D&I champion. Rather, this stuff is a lot of unpaid work. Structuring curricula, conducting and vetting thorough research, creating engagement activities and handouts, not to mention, practicing, refining, and delivering, is all time where you’re not focused on your KPIs, OKRs, or whatever else it is you do there 🙂

    If you don’t know where to start, consult Out in Tech for our list of recommended resources!

    💡 HR-Tip: Companies of all sizes now typically have budget for D&I. Maximize your chances of funding ERG programming by compiling all of the itemized ERG asks together into one spreadsheet. Make it easy for decision-makers to quickly review and decide.

  • Yooo Unconscious Bias Trainings! What a Great Idea!

    Oh totally! So if these aren’t yet on your company’s radar, we recommend you suggest hosting one! Make sure to have as many details as possible before pitching, and with a lot of time in advance- i.e.

    ● How much funding is needed?

    ● Who will do it, and why?

    ● When and where can this potentially take place?

    ● In how many sessions?

    ● How will its efficacy be evaluated?

    Here’s a groovy template for suggesting it to HR / the Higher Ups:

  • Here’s a groovy template for suggesting it to HR / the Higher Ups:

    Template Alert

    Hi {{Name}},

    This is Peter, from Finance. I’m a co-lead of the LGBTQ ERG, CCed with Jane (BLACK@ ERG Co-lead), Suzy (Latinx@ ERG Co-lead), Larissa (Stitch n’ Bitch ERG Co-lead). Hope you’re having a lovely day.

    We’re writing you because we wish to organize a company-wide D&I/ Unconscious Bias training here at {{Company}}, presented by {{Presenter name / hyperlink}}, on {{Potential Date/Date Range}}, {{in honor of Black History Month}} (an in-theme calendar plug allows them to see the marketing potential for this event).

    We want to stay on the best side of herstory, following the example of leaders like Google, Amazon and Salesforce, who’ve all instituted similar trainings to mitigate biases, and move the needle on diversifying our 80%+ White and Asian-male- majority workforce.

    As D&I leaders, we’ve grown so much thanks to {{Company name}}, we now wish to return the favor, by nurturing the growth of us all.

    Would you be open to meeting with us to discuss this possibility, and how we plan to fund and evaluate it?

    Thanks, and talk soon!

    Peter, Jane, Suzy and Larissa

  • 💡 Q-Tip:

    The more ERG leaders you have supporting unconscious bias training, the higher the likelihood of success. You’re all co-pilots on a quest for equity and inclusion.