Donations: Glass half empty or half full?

A recent study shows that donations from individuals dropped in ’09, ’10. But numbers may be up for ’11

Geffen.David

David Geffen

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

How well the LGBT groups are doing financially may well depend on whether one sees a glass as “half empty” or “half full,” but a report, released Tuesday, Dec. 6, by an independent think tank, certainly provides some facts to ponder.

Fewer than 3 percent of LGBT adults make contributions to national LGBT organizations, and the number of individuals giving to LGBT groups dropped 12 percent between 2009 and 2010, a trend that has been in play for the past five years.

The nation’s 40 largest and most important LGBT groups increased their combined revenue (cash and in-kind) by 1 percent between 2009 and 2010 from $163 million to $164 million, and they spent all but $4.6 million of that.

But the top 10 anti-gay groups spent “almost three times as much” as the 40 “major” pro-LGBT groups in 2010.

On average, national LGBT groups spend about 79 percent of their revenue on programs, 10 percent on management and administration, and 11 percent on fundraising.

While there are many harsh realities there, the Movement Advancement Project, an independent think tank devoted to studying how best to marshal the LGBT movement’s resources to “speed advancement of equality for LGBT people,” thinks the movement may be at a “turning point” financially.

“While [LGBT organizations] continued to cut expenses in 2010, organizations saw a slight increase in 2010 revenue, and are projecting expense budget increases for 2011,” said MAP in its 2011 National LGBT Movement Report.

“This,” said MAP, “suggests the LGBT movement may be at a turning point, or at least stabilizing, after seeing large drops in expenses and revenue over the last three years, mostly related to the economic downturn.”

MAP concluded that the “downward trend” in expenditures by the groups, a trend “precipitated by the economic downturn, may be at or nearing an end.”

The evidence, it said, is the fact that national LGBT groups’ projected expense budgets are 13 percent higher this year than last while their debt is smaller.

The report also reflects what economists and politicos have been discussing for a long time about the trend of wealth accumulating among corporations and a few individuals.

The average LGBT group, said MAP, receives 45 percent of its revenue from its 10 largest contributors. At the same time, organizations are increasingly getting their revenue from “corporations, bequests, in-kind contributions, fundraising events and other sources of income.”

“Of particular concern,” said the MAP report, “contributions from individual donors dropped sharply (a 14 percent drop, or $9.3 million) between 2009 and 2010. This revenue drop was mostly offset by revenue increases from corporations (41 percent increase, or $1.8 million), bequests (30 percent increase, or $1.6 million), fundraising events (6 percent increase, or $1.1 million) and other income (126 percent increase, or $3.2 million).”

MAP made its analysis using financial data from 40 LGBT groups, 27 of which had annual budgets of more than $1 million, and 13 additional organizations whose missions are considered “critical” to the LGBT movement.

The groups included such well-known national organizations as the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, as well as state groups, including MassEquality, the Empire State Pride Agenda and Equality California.

MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic said MAP used audited financial data for each group. Where an organization, such as the Human Rights Campaign, has a tax-deductible entity 501(c)(3), a non-tax-deductible entity 501(c)(4), and/or a political action committee, MAP combined the data and showed it all under one group name.

Mushovic said MAP agreed with participants not to release financial data on individual groups.

But Mushovic said the top 10 groups, in terms of revenue, are Equality California; the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; the Human Rights Campaign; Lambda Legal; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Out & Equal; the Point Foundation; Senior Action in a Gay Environment and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

MAP said the 40 LGBT groups represent 71 percent of all money spent by LGBT advocacy groups. It calculated this by analyzing 990 forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service by LGBT groups reporting more than $25,000 in revenue.

The five-year-old MAP organization issued a report last August showing that the LGBT movement is making progress but is being dramatically outspent by its opponents. That report, too, noted that only 3.4 percent of LGBT people made a contribution to national LGBT groups in 2009.

The 2010 report noted that while 550 LGBT non-profit groups collected a total of $574 million in contributions during 2009, most of that money  ($299 million or 52 percent) went to providing health services and community center programs. About $192 million (33 percent) was spent on advocacy, and about $35 million (6 percent) on legal challenges.

Arts and recreation accounted for about $36 million (6 percent). Only $13 million (2 percent) is spent on public education.

The current study was funded by 14 foundations that provide funding to LGBT groups, including the foundations started by well-known gay philanthropists such as David Bohnett, David Geffen, Tim Gill, Jim Hormel and Jon Stryker.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Bill would remove sodomy law from Texas books eight years after it was ruled unconstitutional

Rep. Jessica Farrar

It’s been almost eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ sodomy law as unconstitutional in a landmark ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. But the law itself, Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, remains on the books. Bills have been introduced in every legislative session since then seeking to repeal the statute, but needless to say they’ve never passed. (Remember, the state GOP platform actually calls for the re-criminalization of sodomy.) This year, the 21.06 repeal bill has been introduced by Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston. Farrar’s HB 604, which was introduced today, would not only repeal 21.06, but also strike related anti-gay language from the Health and Safety Code. With a Republican supermajority in the Texas House, the bill is likely doomed again. At the very least, though, it should serve as a sobering reminder. Here’s 21.06, which Farrar’s bill seeks to repeal:

Sec. 21.06.  HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT.

(a)  A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

And here’s the language from the Health & Safety Code that Farrar’s bill would strike:

SECTION 2. Section 85.007(b), Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

(b) The materials in the education programs intended for persons younger than 18 years of age must: …

(2) state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.

SECTION 3. Section 163.002, Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 163.002. INSTRUCTIONAL ELEMENTS. Course materials and instruction relating to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should include: …

(8) emphasis, provided in a factual manner and from a
public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle
acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a
criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.

Read the full bill by going here.

—  John Wright