The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby will return to being headed by two co-convenors after Ben Keats was nominated and accepted by its committee.

Keats, 28, who joins Emily Gray at the helm, said he intended to reform the Lobby’s methods of community fundraising by holding regular events, possibly monthly, for members and supporters, to boost involvement from volunteers.

I’ve identified it as a problem we need to work on. We need to increase our volunteer pool. We need people who are creative, those who can build banners, people with IT skills, marketing, finance, he said.

Keats has a commerce background, and is now studying law at UTS. He stressed that policy and legal expertise was only one set of skills the Lobby needs.

Diversifying the Lobby’s sources of funding was also a priority, he said. Gearing up for a long-term same-sex marriage campaign, the Lobby has begun negotiations with the Berg Foundation to renew its three-year grant-”the Lobby’s largest-”for its Policy Development Officer position.

The Lobby will also be approaching potential supporters for grants tied to specific campaigns, like same-sex marriage.

We need to become more sophisticated with our fundraising. Supporters like to see what their money is going towards, Keats said.

Keats said marriage equality and full parenting rights were the issues that most concerned him. He grew up on the Central Coast and said it was difficult coming out until he was entrenched in university life in Sydney.

Since becoming a volunteer in 2007 and working on the Lobby’s federal election and 58’08 campaigns, he said he’s learned so much more about the level of discrimination that remains in the law.

The Lobby ran into trouble filling the volunteer convenor positions for the first time in 2006. For more than a year the policy development coordinator -” a paid employee -” filled the role of spokesperson.

Equivalent organisations in the UK and US, such as Stonewall and the Human Rights Campaign, have long had a paid CEO as their spokesperson. However, both organisations have much more significant grants, bequests and membership bases.

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