Steady Financial Growth Continues for LGBTQ Groups Despite Unprecedented Attacks to Movement

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people have experienced unprecedented attacks by the Trump administration, coupled with efforts by states to advance religious exemptions laws and draconian legislation targeting transgender people. 

These attacks require LGBTQI organizations to be nimble in organizational priorities and investments. Despite the tense political landscape, the 2019 National Movement Report, published annually by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), finds that national LGBTQI organizations remained steadfast in providing vital programs and services with continued increase in revenue and diverse revenue sources. 

The 2019 National Movement Report provides a comprehensive and standardized look at fiscal year 2018 for 40 major LGBTQI advocacy organizations. These organizations reported total combined 2018 revenue (including in-kind contributions) of $299.3 million—up 8% from 2017. The majority of 2018 expenses (79%) was spent on programs and services, indicating that the largest LGBTQI social justice organizations operate efficiently. 

“Despite the relentless attacks of the Trump administration and attempts to undermine hard-earned nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQI community, movement organizations are well-equipped and poised to respond,” said Ineke Mushovic, MAP executive director. “Especially heading into the 2020 elections, it is reassuring to see a steady increase in support for LGBTQI 
organizations. However, we cannot take for granted our hard-won gains for LGBTQI people and their families, and it is critical that we continue to support these organizations in the fight for progress and equality for all.” 

Among the key findings for organizations participating in the report: 

REVENUE AND EXPENSES ARE GROWING:  

  • Excluding in-kind contributions, organizations reported an aggregate 10% revenue increase from 2017 to 2018. Aggregate revenue including in-kind contributions was up 8% for the same period. Over the past five years, total revenue has increased 47% from 2014 to 2018. 
  • Total combined 2018 expenses (including in-kind) across all participating organizations were $269.8 million–up 6% from 2017. Over the past five years, total expenses increased by 33% from 2014 to 2018, demonstrating growth in programs and services. 

MORE DONORS ACROSS THE BOARD, BUT ESPECIALLY LARGE DONORS: 

  • Individual donor contributions remain the most significant source of revenue among participating LGBTQI organizations, comprising 32% of their total 2018 revenue.  
  • In 2018, participating organizations saw a 15% increase in the number of individual donor contributions from 2017.  
  • From 2017 to 2018, the number of large donors ($25,000+ per year) increased by 29%, medium donors ($1,000-$24,999) by 7%, and small donors ($35-$999) by 4%.  

One group that experienced a five-year high in individual contributions is CenterLink, a member-based coalition of community centers serving LGBTQI communities. “Support for LGBTQI community centers is vital to the development of creating healthy and thriving LGBTQI communities,” said Denise Spivak, interim CEO of CenterLink. “As CenterLink serves over 250 LGBTQI community centers in 47 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., we are immensely grateful to individual donors whose contributions allow us to provide technical assistance and support to those centers. Whether it’s providing vital direct services or organizing for social change, our member centers are the unsung heroes who meet the everyday needs of over 2 million LGBTQI people across the country every year.” 

STAFF BETTER REFLECT BROADER POPULATION DIVERSITY; BOARDS ARE SOMEWHAT LESS REFLECTIVE:  

  • Participating organizations employed a total of 1,028 full-time and 165 part-time staff. 
  • Organizations that reported staff demographics have diverse staff that reflects the overall population. Fifty-four percent of staff are Caucasian, while 15% identify as Black, 14% as Latinx, 8% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1% as Native American, 4% as multiracial, and 4% as some other race or ethnicity. 
  • Among senior staff and board members of LGBTQI organizations, 62% of senior staff are Caucasian as are 65% of board members. 
  • Slightly less than half of all staff identifies as men (40%), and 47% identify as women, while 6% identify as non-binary and 6% as genderqueer or some other identity. Fifteen percent of staff identify as transgender. The majority (59%) of staff are between the ages of 30 and 54. 
  • Among board members, 49% identify as men, 46% as female, 2% as non-binary, and 2% as genderqueer or some other identity. Eight percent of board members identify as transgender. 
  • Of organizations providing data on the sexual orientation of their staff, 45% of staff identified as gay or lesbian, 10% as bisexual, 16% as queer, 15% as another orientation, and 14% as straight. 

FEW LGBTQ PEOPLE CONTRIBUTE TO THESE CRITICAL ORGANIZATIONS: 

While there has been a cumulative increase in revenue from individual contributions, the data continue to reiterate findings from previous years that very few LGBTQ people contribute to these major legal, advocacy, and public education LGBTQI organizations. Based on the number of donors to participating organizations (assuming that all donors are LGBTQ and there are no duplicates), only 3.4% of LGBTQ people contributed $35 or more in 2018 to participating organizations.  

As the political landscapes shift for LGBTQI equality, tracking these trends moving forward will be crucial for understanding the financial health and stability of the movement.