Calamus Foundation


New York, NY, United States

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $684,044
Expenses: $278,764
Assets: $3,576,337


Grantmaking Foundation



Executive Director:

Brian O’Donnell

President’s Compensation:

Gross Salary: $72,000

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $372,015

Expenses: $1,772,444

Assets: $3,786,008 1


  1. “Calamus Foundation 990s.” Accessed August 12, 2019.

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The Calamus Foundation is a left-of-center grantmaking foundation that provides financial support to LGBT advocacy groups and organizations that assist HIV/AIDS patients. To a lesser extent, it also funds architectural education. 1 It distributes over $1 million annually to these causes, particularly to those that aid the elderly LGBT community.


The Calamus Foundation was founded in 1994 by architect Saul “Shelly” Kaplan, a regular donor to the LGBT-interest litigation organization Lambda Legal and co-founder of its Liberty Circle, a group made up of the organization’s highest-contributing supporters. 2 He passed away in 2004, donating $20 million from his estate to the Foundation. 3

In 2006, The Calamus Foundation’s current Executive Director, Brian O’Donnell, assumed his position, which he continues to hold as of August 2019. 4

In 2015, Calamus made its largest donation to date: a $1 million grant to Services and Advocacy for Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE) to fund its “LGBT Elder Housing Initiative.” 5

Present Funding Activities

The Calamus Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals for funding. It often donates to the same charities year after year, with the bulk of its grants going to the American Civil Liberties Union, the NY LGBT Center, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and SAGE. 6

Its largest donations go to SAGE, in the form of a recurring $350,000 yearly grant.


The Calamus Foundation’s Executive Director is Brian O’Donnell, who draws a yearly salary of $72,000. O’Donnell is also the manager of the National Grants Program at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which donated $13,691,316 to AIDS and arts-related causes in 2018. 7 Outside of nonprofit work, O’Donnell is a director, his most recent project being the 2015 gay “coming-of-age” film, AKRON.

Louis Bradbury, one of the Calamus Foundation’s four directors, was the longtime Chairman of New York’s Empire State Pride Agenda, what was formerly the largest New York State-specific LGBT-interest lobbying group. 8 It played a key role in some of the state’s most prominent pro-LGBT laws, including the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, the Dignity for All Students Act, and state recognition of same-sex marriages. 9


The Calamus Foundation’s most recent publicly available filings show total revenues of $372,015 and total expenses of $1,772,444. 10 Its revenues come entirely from its investments, which were made through the $20 million that was bestowed to it by its late founder, Saul Kaplan.


  1. Bradbury, Louis. “NYC AIDS Memorial – Louis Bradsbury.” New York City AIDS Memorial. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  2. “Lambda Legal Impact Fall 2011.” 2011. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  3. “Intro.” The Calamus Foundation. Accessed August 12, 2019. ; Bradbury, Louis. “NYC AIDS Memorial – Louis Bradsbury.” New York City AIDS Memorial. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  4. “Brian O’Donnell LinkedIn.” LinkedIn. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  5. “Calamus Foundation Awards $1 Million for LGBT Elder Housing.” The Calamus Foundation. July 09, 2015. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  6. “Calamus Foundation 990s.” Accessed August 12, 2019.
  7. “Our Grants: Broadway Cares.” Our Grants – Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Accessed August 12, 2019. ; “Creative Team.” AKRON. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  8. Schindler, Paul. “Calamus Grant Totals $300,000 for ESPA Transgender Push.” Gay City News. June 21, 2012. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  9. “Opinion:  In N.Y., a Mission Unfulfilled.” Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. January 07, 2016. Accessed August 12, 2019.
  10. “Calamus Foundation 990s.” Accessed August 12, 2019.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: November - October
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1997

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Nov Form PF $684,044 $278,764 $3,576,337 $40,392 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Nov Form PF $535,088 $253,287 $3,090,273 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Nov Form PF $553,456 $211,291 $2,808,640 $147 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Nov Form PF $389,658 $201,267 $2,521,919 $55,591 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Nov Form PF $28,016 $203,315 $2,277,937 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Calamus Foundation

    1325 6th Ave # 27
    New York, NY 10019
    United States