Laughing Gull Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $8,128,853
Expenses: $1,332,241
Assets: $20,163,973


Private Foundation

Board President:

Meg Baesmith

Executive Director:

Hez Norton

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The Laughing Gull Foundation is a left-leaning private foundation that makes grants in the areas of LGBT interests, higher education in prison, and environmentalism. The Durham, North Carolina – based foundation was founded in 2012 and focuses its mission in America’s southern region. 1


Hez Norton is the Executive Director of the Laughing Gull Foundation. Norton is a graduate of Duke University and holds a Master of Public Administration from Northeastern University. Norton is part of the National LGBTQ Task Force and is a board member on numerous LGBT-interest advocacy groups. 2

Meg Baesmith is a co-founder of the Laughing Gull Foundation and has served as its board president since 2013. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and later earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. In her career she has held leadership positions with the Merck Family Fund, Resource Generation, Bolder Giving, the Food Project, the Farm School, and Waltham Fields Community Farm. 3

Prison Program

The foundation supports educational opportunities for imprisoned convicts. University of North Carolina Asheville was granted $195,000 from Laughing Gull to provide credit-bearing college courses to inmates at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution in 2019. 4 The University of Utah’s Research Collaborative on Higher Education in Prison was one of the grantees of a $3,658,000 donation that intends to fund postsecondary education to inmates throughout 2020. 5

LGBT Advocacy

LGBT-interest advocacy is among the focal points of the foundation’s philanthropic efforts. In 2019, Laughing Gull Foundation donated nearly $4 million to 24 LGBQ advocacy groups, and sponsored Give OUT Day in April 2019, which raised over $1 million for LGBT advocacy. 6 7 The Laughing Gull is also a member of Funders for LGBT Issues, a network of over 75 philanthropists focused on supporting LGBT interests. 8


The foundation held the Laughing Gull Reception at the 2020 Creating Change Conference. The conference described President Trump’s policies as harmful towards the LGBT community and accused the administration of emboldening white supremacy in America. The conference also claimed that the religious right has worked to undermine healthcare access for people of color. 9


  1. “Partners in Social Change.” TSNE MissionWorks. Accessed February 23, 2020.,-lgbtq-equality/job?mobile=false&width=960&height=500&bga=true&needsRedirect=false&jan1offset=-300&jun1offset=-240.
  2. “Team.” lgfhome. Accessed February 23, 2020.
  3. “Team.” lgfhome. Accessed February 23, 2020.
  4. “UNC Asheville Foundation Awarded $195,000 Grant from Laughing Gull Foundation to Support UNC Asheville’s Prison Education Program – News And Events: UNC Asheville.” News And Events | UNC Asheville. Accessed February 22, 2020.
  5. “Department of Educational Leadership & Policy.” The U of U Research Collaborative on HEP receives funding from the Laughing Gull Foundation – Department of Educational Leadership & Policy – The University of Utah. Accessed February 22, 2020.
  6. Jbecker. “Foundation Donates Nearly $4 Million to 24 LGBTQ Groups.” Baltimore Outloud. Accessed February 23, 2020.
  7. NonProfit Times. “Give OUT Day Raised $1.1 Million for LGBTQ Nonprofits.” The NonProfit Times. Accessed February 23, 2020.
  8. “Laughing-Gull-Foundation.” Funders for LGBT Issues. Accessed February 23, 2020.
  9. “Official Program.” Creating Change Conference, December 2019.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2013

  • 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 Dec Form PF $8,128,853 $1,332,241 $20,163,973 $9,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $16,894,607 $440,709 $11,344,233 $200,444 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $9,971,869 $882,182 $6,269,027 $466,400 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $1,104,961 $241 $1,104,720 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Laughing Gull Foundation

    1003 LAMOND AVE
    DURHAM, NC 27701-2072