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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 23, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 51
Anti-Gay groups spend far more money than LGBT groups
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Anti-Gay groups spend far more money than LGBT groups

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Anti-Gay organizations are able to spend far more money than pro-LGBT groups, according to a new report released this month.

The comparative study was done by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), 'an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight, and analysis that help speed equality for LGBT people,' according to its website.

MAP surveyed the 40 largest LGBT organizations in the country for its annual National LGBT Movement Report.

According to Zack Ford of the progressive ThinkProgress blog, the MAP report 'analyzes the financial documents of 40 prominent LGBT organizations,' comparing them to the 10 leading anti-Gay groups.

Shockingly, the MAP report finds that Focus on the Family by itself spends more money than all 40 LGBT groups combined.

Focus on the Family spent more than $132 million in 2010, compared to less than $127 million for the LGBT groups.

In fact, at more than $330 million, the 10 largest anti-Gay groups spent almost three times as much as all 40 of the LGBT groups combined.

In part, the gap can be attributed to a very small funding base for pro-LGBT organizations. MAP estimates the number of individual donors to LGBT organizations amounts to only 3% of LGBT Americans. Ninety-seven percent of the estimated 8.7 million LGBT Americans never contribute to these organizations at all.

The report also estimates that most LGBT groups rely on just 10 contributors for 45% of their annual income. The other 55% is made up of smaller donations.

Another problem for pro-LGBT organizations is that their supporters tend to be concentrated on the coasts, some activists say.

'There are many reasons for the relative dearth of donations coming from within our own community, but coming from the Midwest, I can tell you that many of our national organizations aren't very well known in the interior of the country,' the interim executive director of Stonewall Democrats, Jerame Davis, told Washington Blade reporters.

'H.R.C., Stonewall Democrats, PFLAG, and Lambda Legal are the only organizations we heard from on a consistent basis in Indiana. Go ask your average Midwestern LGBT person to name even five national LGBT organizations; something tells me they wouldn't get past number three.'

LGBT Midwesterners tend to feel alienated from the 'movement' on the coasts, Davis said, and therefore are not as likely to donate to LGBT organizations.

'It has been a regular complaint from those in 'flyover country' that the national LGBT movement needs to focus more on the very clear and obvious lack of equilibrium in equality around the country,' Davis continued.

'The stark imbalance when you look at a state like Indiana versus a state like New York makes it hard for folks in those states with less equality to believe the national movement is working for them. That turns off a lot of potential donors who are motivated to give, but feel they have few outlets to do so that will directly impact their daily lives.'

The MAP report also had some good news to report.

Most of the 40 organizations studied have turned their finances around from a 2009 low, with revenue exceeding expenses this year. In 2009, most of them were in the red.

Most LGBT organizations now report a general increase in revenue coupled with a general decrease in expenses.

LGBT organizations have also kept cost of fundraising in check, with only 11% of their average annual expenses going toward fundraising. On average, LGBT groups spent 79% of their money on programs and services, and only 10% on operations.

The LGBT groups included in the MAP survey ranged from large national organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Victory Fund, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and National Center for Lesbian Rights to smaller organizations like Log Cabin Republicans, SoulForce, the Trevor Project, and In The Life Media, and even some state-wide and local organizations like Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality California, and the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.

The top 10 anti-Gay groups include Focus on the Family, the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defense Fund, American Family Association, Coral Ridge Ministries, Family Research Council, American Center for Law and Justice, Concerned Women for America, Traditional Values Coalition, and National Organization for Marriage.

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