Boy with "Marry Who You Love" sign Photo by Charlotte Fiorito ©

Changing Hearts and Minds

How philanthropy helped love win

The untold story of how a small group of foundations helped make marriage equality the law of the land is told in this video and case study.

In 2004, a group of foundations came together to create a funder collaborative in support of Freedom to Marry’s state-by-state strategy to win marriage equality. Over the following 11 years, this unique collaborative and its funding partners invested a total of $153 million to support a wide range of activities across the country to change hearts and minds on a massive scale — and ultimately to deliver a historic win for equality and love.

There were many forces that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision making marriage equality the law of the land: tenacious leaders and litigators, coalitions of diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations, straight allies, elected officials, celebrities, and most important, hundreds of thousands of individuals, couples and families at the grassroots working for change. Another force that played a critical but largely unknown role was philanthropy, and in particular the funders that joined together in the Civil Marriage Collaborative.

A new case study and video tell the untold, behind-the-scenes story of this funder collaborative — how its members worked with movement leaders to develop a strategy for winning, how they persevered in their support despite enormous setbacks, and how they invested in the opinion research, state-by-state grassroots action and litigation that pushed marriage over the finish line from coast to coast. As the Civil Marriage Collaborative closes its doors in 2015, the case study and video also draw lessons from this historic victory for foundations supporting other social justice causes.