How Many Companies With Pride Campaigns Donate To LGBTQ Causes? A New Study Has The Answers

Juan Moyano/Stocksy

It feels like Pride this year was more visible than any that have gone before. While it’s always a huge deal in my calendar, it was pretty impossible to go out to the shops or watch TV without seeing rainbow covered versions of pretty much everything in June 2019. From makeup palettes, shoes, and jumpers to mouth wash, beer, and flags it felt like everyone was feeling the Pride hype. However, a recent study revealed that only 64% of companies doing a Pride campaign donated to an LGBT+ cause. While it’s all well and good that companies are making it super easy to decorate your house multicoloured from top to toe, the participants in the study point out that, if a company is going to run a Pride campaign, they should support the LGBTQ community in more tangible ways.

It turns out I wasn’t alone in noticing an increase in Pride themed products in June 2019. Marketing experts saw this spike in Pride campaigns by brands and decided to investigate their commitment to the LGBT+ cause, analysing 122 companies to see how much LGBT+ marketing they were doing, if they had ever done it before, and if they were donating proceeds to charity. Researchers also spoke to 250 members of the LGBT+ community to find out how they felt about the increase in “corporate Pride.”

So, what did they find? Well, while 87% of respondents from the LGBT+ community said they felt that all corporations who were running a Pride campaign should donate the proceeds to relevant charities, only 64% of the 122 companies surveyed were actually doing so.


There has been growing scepticism within the LGBTQ community about corporations involvement in Pride events. In fact, there's even a name for it: Rainbow Capitalism. This is the notion that a company would run an LGBTQ campaign throughout Pride month without donating money to a relevant cause and not supporting the community throughout the rest of the year.

Of the 250 members of the LGBT+ community that spoke to, nine percent were so wary of Rainbow Capitalism that they would go as far as purposefully not purchasing brand's Pride tie-ins.

And they may feel justified in their decision when they find out that, of the 122 companies surveyed, more than one in ten were scored less than 80% by the HRC for their “steps to ensure greater equity for LGBTQ+ workers and their families in the form of comprehensive policies, benefits and practices,” with the majority of these failing to provide “equivalency in same and different sex domestic partner medical and soft benefits” and showing a lack of “equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care.”

Companies involvement in Pride has been a hot topic of debate for almost a decade, with many famous faces weighing in. At the end of June 2019, Years and Years lead singer Olly Alexander shared his experiences with brands during Pride. On Instagram he wrote, “no matter where you stand on corporate brand Pride tie ins it’s hard not to feel this years 2019 Pride collection of mouthwash, t-shirts (socks shoes jumpers glasses hats ), banks, and sandwiches has felt especially icky.” He continued:

"The bare minimum approach here makes me laugh. Re-doing your logo in a rainbow and ‘dOnAtInG a PoRTiOn Of pRoCeEds’ is not enough!!!!(possibly not even happening with this brand!??)). I wish brands would realize how embarrassing this kind of s**t is."

Corporate brand Pride tie-ins are nothing new and certainly won’t be going anywhere in the near future. While some feel super uncomfortable about brands getting involved with Pride, found that 84% of respondents felt “positively” in general about Pride campaigns with some stating they felt the “celebration of LGBT+ is great to raise awareness, especially to younger generations”. However, a huge 96% of people asked said they felt that corporations should “do more throughout the year to help LGBT+ causes, rather than just in Pride month.”