The 5 Best Gay Charities

QUEERTY IN DEPTH — It’s not all doom and gloom. In looking at the worst charities for your dollar, we’d be remiss to not tell you about some other organizations that take your money and spend it wisely.

We know in these difficult financial times how you spend your money is more important than ever. The following groups, bastions of organization and efficiency that they are, won’t waste yours.

For a full understanding of how we made our decisions, please see the accompanying article on the five worst charities for your dollar. We used the rankings from independent site Charity Navigator to determine the results of the best gay charities in terms of their organizational efficiency and capacity. Our rankings weighted charities with larger budgets higher, and we excluded any group not specifically focused on LGBT issues.

In all instances we have reached out to the respective groups and asked them for a response and we will update the site as these responses become available.

5. Human Rights Campaign Foundation

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It’s no secret that Queerty has been critical about the focus of HRC’s programming, but you’ll get no argument from us that the nation’s 10,000-pound, gay charity gorilla knows how to raise money and spend it effectively. HRC has over a year’s worth of operating costs stowed away for a rainy day, and it’s making more money all the time, with an impressive revenue growth rate of 21 percent. The fact that programming expenses outpace revenue growth by 11 percent shows that HRC is putting their growing coffers to use. Another myth that needs bursting: HRC executive Joe Solomonese makes only $35,472/year from HRC. The rest of his >$200,000 salary comes from outside affiliates. That said, there’s still much room for improvement. In terms of organizational efficiency, HRC ranks among the lowest of all gay charities. Like many of the organizations on our worst five list, HRC spends far too much money and effort on fundraising; 22 cents of every dollar raised by HRC winds up going to fund more fundraisers. If HRC wants to move up the ranks, it needs to find ways to raise money more efficiently.

HRC President Joe Joe Solmonese responds:

“As someone said, these are both the best and the worst of times. The best in that our community has never had the opportunity it has now with a new president and a new Congress. But these tough economic times demand that we all do more with less, and that’s exactly what we plan to do at HRC.”

4. L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

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A sprawling organization that provides healthcare and social services to the City of Angels, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is remarkably well-rounded, performing well – sometimes brilliantly – in every metric Charity Navigator uses to evaluate organizations. 82 percent f the money raised by the Center goes directly into programming expenses, which puts it in the upper echelon of gay charities. It also continues to grow at a healthy pace, with revenues up by 10 percent a year and programming expenses increasing by 5 percent. The LAGLC has been raking in cash at a good clip and could stand to keep a little more cash on hand as it only has three months worth of services squirreled away should money dry up. It would be a better use of the funds than spending it on more lavish fundraisers, a trap the Center has mostly avoided thus far, but which recent budgets show is beginning to creep in. All in all, President Lori Jean earns her salary of $241,923, which may seem like a lot, but is only 0.62percent of the annual budget, one of the lowest rates of any gay charity executive.

Jim Key, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Center replies:

“To run so efficiently, while providing such a wide variety of services for thousands of LGBT people each month, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center squeezes value out of every donation and makes great use of more than 3,000 hard working and dedicated volunteers.”

3. The Point Foundation

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The final three gay charities listed rank not only as the best in the LGBT community, but the best of any non-profit charitable organization. Taking the bronze is national LGBT scholarship fund the Point Foundation, which not only provides financial support to at-risk gay and lesbian students, but does so through an innovative one-on-one mentoring program. 2006 was a banner year for the foundation and they wisely put that money to use the subsequent year, increasing program expenses by 70 percent. It’s this rapid growth that propelled Point to such a high spot on the list, but it remains to be seen if it can remain there. The group’s organizational efficiency is only average, and with two-years’ worth of operating expenses in the bank, Point could afford to take a second look at its fundraising and administrative costs in order to see where they might be able to squeeze out more money for its students.

Jorge Valencia, Executive Director & CEO of the Point Foundation responds:

“We are honored that Point is among the Top 5 gay charities. We believe this comes from our commitment to supporting our scholars and our responsibility to our individual donors and corporate and foundation supporters. We utilize the expertise of our Boards and executive staff to maintain the guidelines set forth by Charity Navigator and are consistently seeking ways to maximize support to our scholars.”

2. Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute

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Considering the size and scope of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute’s program, their ability to put the money they receive to use is nothing short of astounding. The Victory Fund, as it is better known, is tasked with tracking and training the future gay leaders of tomorrow. Currently, they’re actively focused on working with the incoming Obama administration to help identify qualified LGBT candidates for administration positions. All but six cents of every dollar you give to the Victory Fund will go directly to the effort. How do they do it? Well, President Chuck Wolfe doesn’t draw a salary and administrative costs hover at a barely perceivable 1.1 percent of the total budget. With such a high level of efficiency, the rapidly growing organization is able to channel its increased revenues directly into new programs. The Victory Fund is a lean, mean, gay politician-making machine.

And the best charity for your dollar?

1. Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

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With a progressive global reach, The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is the Clinton Global Initiative of the gay community. With a mission to “address the lack of funding for women-specifically lesbians and women of color”, the foundation awards a variety grants to individuals and groups, much of it in the world of the arts. By every metric available, Astraea uses the money it raises wisely. It appears to have used 2007’s revenues to build up a deep reservoir of two year’s worth of expenses and it appears historically that an increase in revenue equals a corresponding increase in grants. With 86 percent of all money raised going directly to grant award winners, Astraea is the most efficient gay organization in the world. A measly five cents of your dollar goes to administration and fundraising. The rest of it goes right to work.

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  • Joe Moag

    Interesting post! I think that the problem, though, with this assessment is that terms like “effective” seem loose and without definition. For instance, HRC is said to be highly effective. In what way? In terms of programming impact? In terms of making real changes? In terms of successfully meeting it’s stated organizational and mission objectives? HARDLY!

    Conversely, Gay Men’s Health Crisis seems to get the lowest marks for its lack of an endowment. That has little – if any – bearing on whether or not GMHC achieves its programming and mission objectives day in and day out. The lack of an endowment may well indicate that the organization is investment poor and subject to threat from sudden financial changes, but that, again, is not a measure of whether the organization is using its donations to actually, and effectively, acheive its stated goals.

    This seems to be using financial ratios – and only financial ratios – as a measure of effectiveness and efficiency. While financial ratios are critically important, NFPs exist to affect change, not deliver returns on investments in any classical for-profit sense. Therefore, a more clearly defined, mission-and-programming based concept of effective would seem to be called for upon which to compare these organizations.

  • xiquet

    I agree with Joe Moag. Finances alone are not a great indicator of the important work these organizations do. There are are good (and bad) reasons for organizations to have different program vs. admin expense ratios, depending on the type of work they do.

    I don’t think withholding our dollars from organizations that do great and important work, but have subjectively “poor” financial ratios, will take us where we want to be.

  • John

    @Joe Moag:

    I’m doing an MBA at the moment and one of the business reports I’m doing on an assignment is a charity and it’s really hard to judge it’s ‘effectivness’. This works if you are talking about corporate companies-plc, limited companies etc.

    We need to create a new manner of measuring out the effectiveness of charities, social enterprises and creative SME’s…something that can be included in operations or something…?

  • Joe Moag

    @John: You really need to look at the stated organizational and mission goals of an org, and then evaluate whether or not they are acheiving their goals. Orgs always state their goals – in mission, vision, and on grant proposals seeking programming money. If they say that they will “get 5 gay people elected to Congress” (just a hypothetical example) and get no gay people elected to Congress, the fact that they do or do not have an endowment, the fact that 99.9% of their funding goes to programming, are irrelevant. They are ineffective. Conversely, if they spend 70% on fundraising, yet achieve every goal that they said that they would, they are, by the primary definition of what a non-profit exists to do, effective.

    Very difficult assessments, and they do not at all lend themselves to simple financial ratio analysis.

  • Alan down in Florida

    @ Joe Moag

    “Conversely, Gay Men’s Health Crisis seems to get the lowest marks for its lack of an endowment.”

    Surely, in a universe of (closeted) size queens, you must appreciate the irony in that statement.

  • Anarchos

    HRC? What a joke.

  • John

    @Joe Moag:

    Thanks, I need to read up more on charities, really interesting.

  • at work today

    Indeed, GMHC does not have an endowment due to their philosophy that every penny should be used on direct services for those living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Joe Moag

    @John: Check out the Donors Forum (, I think). It’s in Chicago, and is a resource clearinghouse on NFPs…you might be able to scan around their library and find some interesting reads…

  • Sean

    Thanks again for this thought provoking article! It will start a debate taht we need to have this year about our organizations. I agree with many on here and the “worst” post, HRC is ranked to high for an organization that really hasn’t delivered on its mission. It has done a great job on being a resource for public policy discussions such as job benefits packages and gay-friendly businesses but mostly I see no return.

    I want to point out two things here though outside of criticism or applause for gay organizations. I do not see Lambda Legal here and to me that is the most effective since it really does delivere a lot of services and supports the legal arm of our community. Why was it not included? Is it not seen as a charity? Second, did anyone notice that most of these charities are L.A., NYC, or DC based? We are such a community focused on these three cities or just the state of California it seems in our news, issues, and culture. Where is our 50 state strategy?

  • nobody

    HRC is really good at distributing rubber chicken dinners to people who don’t need them.

    As long as Hillary Rosen is part of HRC, it deserves no support of any kind.

  • D

    It is frustrating as a nonprofit manager to see this. Charity Navigators numbers are often not accurate or do not reflect changes in management.

    Also, the fact that you all chose foundations as the top 5 is ridiculous. Of course they will have endowments, have few program or operation fees, etc. because that is their intent versus organizations with direct services such as GMHC.

  • Robert

    HRC, really… I’ve honestly become fed up with hearing about them, what exactly do they do besides send me an email every week.

  • DCposter

    The bottom line is that you should give to orgs that spend the bulk of their revenue on programs rather than salaries.

  • David Fletcher

    HRC. What a fucking Joke. The Human Rights Champagne Fund. Jesus Queerty Genre Magazine much?

  • Smartypants

    Japhy, I’ll give you credit for tackling an important issue, but have to vehemently disagree with your conclusions.

    While sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar have some useful data about nonprofit operations, they provide little or no context for interpreting the information. Having worked in the nonprofit sector for close to 20 years, I can tell you it is ridiculously easy for an organization like, oh HRC, to attribute their expenses in a way that makes them look like a model of efficiency. In particular it can be ridiculously easy to bury fundraising costs and administrative overhead as program costs.

    On the flip side, an organization like NGLTF can make an earnest attempt to clearly distinguish administrative costs from program expenses, only to be penalized when someone only looks at the raw data and doesn’t put it in context.

    A major reason for NGLTF’s high admin expenses is due to the number of field offices they have around the country — this fits with their mission of community building. When you’re paying rent on six offices in expensive real estate markets like NYC, Washington DC and Los Angeles, the percentage of your budget going to admin will be higher than if you keep all your people in a tower inside the Beltway like HRC.

    Higher admin costs doesn’t mean that NGLTF is ineffective or inefficient. It can be attributed to their presence on the ground in communities across the country. I would argue that this means NGLTF has a better understanding of the day-to-day experience and issues confronting average LGBT folks than the staff of HRC who pretend that flitting from fundraiser to fundraiser to consort with wealthy donors is an education and outreach program expense.

  • Jay

    The LA Gay & Lesbian Center really needs to explain how exactly Lorri Jean “earns” that high salary when she spends so much time on vacation. A month in July, and right now she is “on sabbatical” in Hawaii until January 20th.

    In addition, anyone who has to access services at The Center can tell you: the staff is hateful. They fight openly amongst themselves in front of clients. And that head nurse in the Clinic is off the charts. This place needs a very serious HR overhaul.

  • Michael J

    Ditto what Joe Moag, xiquet, John and other have pointed out, about using financial indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of non-profits.
    And regardless of whether one thinks HRC deserves monetary support, I don’t think it can be called a “charity” in the traditional sense of providing direct support of the needy (unless of course you believe candidates with expensive campaigns should be considered part of the needy).
    I don’t limit my contributions to charity and I do support political organizations and candidates, but HRC’s focus make it a political group I definately will not support.

  • The Gay Numbers

    You like the No on 8 Campaign confuse money with effective. I used to run a small non-profit a very long time ago. It was in the area of long term community support for low income people.

    Things may have changed and I was working in a different area, but I doubt that the need for effective outcomes has changed. Money is only one factor. My problem is not that your discussion mentions money, but that it’s your focus. Thus your list is all but a forgone waste of time for the following reasons:

    a) Other than raising money, what is the impact of what the charities stated goals are on the various gay communities? If you do not know that, then you do not know if they are serving gays (your audience here) better or not.

    b) Other than raising money (you seem impressed by shiny things), how are they innovating to improve the situation for gays? For example, are they thinking outside of the gay ghetto box? If so, how?

    There are a lot of other questions I would have asked in assessing the quality of the charities. This is a poor job on your part. There does not appear to be much research involved in it at all. It was great idea. Just poorly executed.

  • GranDiva

    @Michael J:
    Exactly. HRC isn’t a charity, it’s a PAC; there are no charitable outreach programs per se, they’re there to schmooze politicians and pursue a political agenda. That’s not a bad thing necessarily (though the way HRC goes about it is pretty backwards a lot of the time), but it’s different from direct aid.

  • The Gay Numbers

    By two that I like are Soul Force and Courage Campaign (although the later is not forced just on gay issues, they seem clear about the need to change). The former to me ‘gets it.” You can’t stay in your gay ghettos expecting the world to change by itself.

  • Japhy Grant

    One note about GMHC: As mentioned in the article, the fact that it doesn’t have much cash on hand is one reason that it’s on the list, but not the only. The far more troubling problem with GMHC is its nearly flat growth in revenue ad well as program expenses. As goods and services increase in cost over time, a flat or near-flat growth rate means that program capacity is actually decreasing.

    Are the Charity Navigator ratings the last word on the value of non-profit? Hardly. As many of you have pointed out, we’re not assessing the quality or value of a charity’s intentions, but rather how effective they are at managing themselves, because even if you have the best intentions in the world, if you don’t have the organizational capacity and efficiency to carry them out, you will not be successful.

    We feel that Charity Navigator is a good, independent and impartial assessment of the many factors that indicate financial stability and health in an organization. It’s been named one of Time Magazines 50 Websites of the year and receives no money from corporate sponsors as it is, itself, a non-profit.

    I hope this clarify things a little.

  • John in CA

    Human Rights Campaign and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center?


    You mean the two organizations whose leaders are best adept at losing elections (LAGLC) and not getting lesiglation passed (HRC)? I guess we have a different metric for “effective” here than in the rest of America.

  • thatguyfromboston

    @John – There are several consulting companies that do measure the effectiveness of non-profits using a variety of tools. I should know, I work for one.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Japhy Grant: How does this address the question of whether your metric is useful with regard to either effectiveness or innovation?

  • Jerome

    Great to see POINT FOUNDATION there. They are a wonderful organization doing great things for students!

  • Joe Moag

    @Japhy Grant: Japhy. Important article, for sure. However, you are not, actually, assessing management by using financial ratios. You are assessing financial managment.

    There are numerous reasons why some orgs have outstanding balance sheets and others don’t, and these can often have nothing whatsoever to do with how they are (or are not) effectively managing themselves vis-a-vis delivering on their mission and organizational objectives.

    For instance – and this is just one for instance: In-Kind contributions can be significant in the area of programming and will not show up as a cash value of investment in programming. I used to run a national non-profit that operated in all 50 states and had minimal cash expenditures to our 50 state teams. However, we had tens – and even hundreds – of thousands (depending on the state) of dollars in volunteer work being done at the state level to effectively deliver the programming and mission of the organization.

    I have worked in non-profit management for over 20 years. A quick look at financials is about the least relevant indicator of organizational effectiveness. Out of the hundreds – and I mean hundreds – of meetings that I have had to review grant proposals for programming with foundations, I have never once had a foundation ask any substantive question about the financial ratios of my organizations. They want to see metrics for evaluating program delivery effectiveness. They understand that financial indicators that have been adopted from a for-profit model to a non-for-profit model leave a lot to be desired. NFPs operate on a double bottom line – effectiveness of program delivery/mission acheivement AND cost effectiveness. Financial ratios may – may – give a little insight into cost structure and investment allocations, but say nothing about mission delivery.

  • at work today

    @Japhy Grant:

    But again, it doesn’t make sense to me to read that GMHC is among the best in the nation at fulfilling their mission and then be discouraged from donating to them.

    Articles like this one are dangerous, as they provide such a limited and subjective view on this topic. None of these organizations can afford to lose a single donor based on faulty information, especially during a financial climate as perilous as this one, and unfortunately, that seems inevitable here.

    It would have been far more fair to actually interview reps from these orgs before publishing this, as opposed to leveling charges and waiting for the accused to defend themselves (and take time away from their jobs providing important services to the community in order to respond to something as skewed as this “study”).

    Overall, I just think this is a poorly thought-out and tragically executed disservice.

  • Japhy Grant

    @at work today:GMHC is the best in the nation when it come to allocating most of its budget to programs, which is only one of many factors considered. In the other areas mentioned, growth of programs and revenue, especially, it is severely lacking and thus gets a lower ranking.

    Again, let me stress that this is an assessment of how well these organizations spend your money. It is not based on Queerty’s personal opinion, but an independent analysis of the groups publicly available finances.

    We’re not telling you how innovative the charity is. We’re not telling you if we like its program. We’re telling you how wisely it spends the money it raises.

    If you have questions about how these rankings were determined, click on the ‘methodology’ link on the Wost Gay Charities article.

  • xiquet

    @Japhy Grant: But you are making a statement about which organizations “don’t deserve” our cash.

    How “well” and how “wisely” an organization spends the money it raises is very subjective. Saying that another organization made an “independent analysis” based on metrics they felt matter doesn’t make it objective, and it definitely doesn’t mean these organizations don’t deserve our support for the work they do.

    It sounds like you’re saying you’re just reporting the facts, but I don’t think that’s the case.

  • Charles J. Mueller


    “HRC, really… I’ve honestly become fed up with hearing about them, what exactly do they do besides send me an email every week.”

    And a request for yet another donation, as well, Robert. No wonder they have such a big bank balance. What good does that do us? All it “guarantees” is that Joe will have at least a dozen more balls to attend in his penguin suit and black tie before HRC closes shop.

    I agree with Joe Moag. Comparing the efficacy of any gay charity based on the effectiveness of fund-raising ability and how much money they have in the bank is ridiculous.

    King Midas amassed impressive amounts of gold too. So what?

    The “dividend” we are seeking for our “investment”, if we are going to look at these charities as profit-making entities, should be their effectiveness at bringing about needed change, not how well they run their fund-raising campaigns.

    Personally, I find 25 cents on the dollar, just to raise funds objectionable, ineffective and just downright disgusting. Add to that cost, rent, insurance, electric, telephone, salaries, paper/postage/shipping, advertising and the normal operating costs associated with running a charity (oh and I forgot to add in the cost of throwing balls and galas), exactly how much of that “profit” is actually reaching and
    addressing the pressing issues of the LGBT community?

    This seems to be a common problem with so many charities. The bigger and more “successful” they become, the more top-heavy they become as their expenses balloon out of sight, like a prenant woman. No offense to the gals, just a comparison to make a point. ;-)

    Like Robert, I too am fed-up with HRC and how Queerty can back such a top-heavy, ineffectual organiaation that has failed us so badly, makes me shake my head in wonderment.

    Everytime I see a picture of Joe Salmonese with one of those big smiles on his face that blatantly says, “Wow, I am having such a wonderful time dancing my balls off here at this gala, benefit, fund-raiser, inaugural ball, whatever, wish you were here.”, I could just smack him the the chops.

    So, maybe he only gets $35K a year for his “services” at HRC, as some poster stated earlier? Whatever the amount actually is, it’s too much!

    I for one, am sick and tired of sending my annual membership fee, so Joe can dance his ass off with the pretty ladies.

    I’m out of HRC and they can just fuck off as far as this tired, old queen, is concerned.

  • Lukas

    I think the Ali Forney Center is really great. Any amount of money you can give them goes to very good, critical use.

  • Bobby

    Sad to see that Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS was not included on this list. BC/EFA raises millions every year for over 400 AIDS and family service organizations across America and South Africa.

  • John

    All the HRC haters on here really do need to get a life. It’s fine if you don’t like them, but the vitriol is ridiculous.

    Just for clarity, the Foundation, mentioned in this article, is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity. It does the corporate equality index, etc. and provides a ton of research and other information used by any number of GLBT groups.

    HRC proper, as someone else noted, is a Political Action Committee and is supposed to lobby and work to get pro-GLBT legislation passed and try to stop anti-GLBT legislation. They were ranked recently as one of the most effective PACs (particularly considering HRC’s funding levels which are dwarfed by other PACs).

    Finally, all the bitching about the dinners. Folks, those are put on by local communities and are fundraisers for the PAC – not just some self-congratulating expense. Don’t you think maybe Joe S. get a little sick of doing one after another and all the public appearances? It’s not that glamorous a life. I really tire of people taking potshots as someone who works very hard to advance GLBT rights.

    How about we remember the saying “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness”??!!

  • John

    Cool, what is it?I’d like to have a look..

  • Puddy Katz

    Name one concrete thing achieved by the HRC?
    I will continue to give to GMHC as my major charity. It needs the money (you’ve made that clear) and I am proud that such a large percentage is spent on client services.
    Maybe Queerty should stick to putting up photos of half-naked twinks.

  • boytroy

    @John: Oh please, Mr. Solomonese is such martyr. He is paid very well for what he does and you paint him as if he some kind of Martin Luther King who works tirelessly and gets nothing in return. The HRC has achieved so little. Ues they love to write their e-mails taking credit for things like Obama’s vicotory, as well as use it as an excuse to ask for another donation. But what have they achieved? As Japhy has pointed out the are effective at raising cash, that is it.
    I was heavily courted by their group of A-list faggs back when I lived in the U.S. I came from a family background that was affluent and well connected socially. When I chose to give my money, my time and ask the same of my family and friends to a local Aids organization that did amazing things they were all completely pissed at me and I laughed at all of them. Its a club of a wannabe queens who use it to move up a social ladder that does not even exist.

  • John

    @John in CA:

    HRC is composed of its PAC (HRC) and its foundation (HRCF). HRCF does things like the religion and faith program, workplace project, etc. You will see in the article that HRCF is mentioned, not HRC. Next time, get your stuff right.

  • Ruben Weisbaum

    One of the many inherent inconsistencies within liberalism in general and theological revisionism in particular is the self-ascribed vanity, embraced universally amongst the “anointed ones”, that liberals “speak truth to power,” stand up for the poor and impoverished, befriend the outcasts, and work tirelessly on their behalf.

    This self-image is zealously guarded and maintained…it seems a psychological necessity–in the face of cold hard facts that belie it–namely that the “poor” are generally quite conservative…especially when it comes to religion. Few things irk the liberal soul more than this glaring truth. They deal with it in a variety of ways. The emphasis on “awareness” and “sensitivity training” among liberals is, I think, one outgrowth of this concern. The problem, they persuade themselves, is not that liberalism/revisionism is bankrupt and unworkable (and therefore unpopular), it is just that people are “uneducated”…they have yet to be enlightened…they still are too ignorant to “get it” but once they do we can take our proper roles as the people’s vanguard.

    The thrust of this particular vanity tends to run headlong into just the sort of paternalism, racial and otherwise, that they claim to despise and oppose…bearing in many ways a quite distinct similarity with the infamous “white man’s burden”…

    But what happens when those who “stoop low” to help the “uneducated” find that the “ignorant” masses reject the lessons of their betters? What happens when, say, the minority vote makes up a large percentage of the voting electorate that defeated Proposition 8 in California?

    Rage. Blinding, ugly, disgusting rage.

  • Danielle

    If you have tried to look on the HRC website to find a list of their development staff, you won’t find one. What are they hiding? How many people do they have staff devoted only to raising money? Their program staff appears to be relatively thin and comparable to organizations like the Task Force that have about half of the HRC budget.

  • D

    I am so tired of hearing about salaries being too high. Of course some may seem high…but why are nonprofit executives held to a double standard? A $2 biz would have that pay and more. These people work hard at many times a thankless job and are criticized for being paid at a market rate because they work for a charity. If you don’t believe me, go work at one and see how easy it is.

  • Steph

    HRC???? What do they actually do besides leave out our transgender brothers and sisters and sell stickers?

    Im a sustaining member of Equality California, who has the post positive track record of any LGBT organization at actually SHOWING me what happens with my donation. And a little known fact – unlike HRC’s sprawling newly built mansion like buildings, I have been to EQCA’s headquarters, and it accommodates about 12 people in the space of my living room. They would rather spend my money on making CA more equal instead of fancy furniture. Now tell me that doesnt get you bang for your buck!!

  • ryanb

    @Joe Moag: Like, are you dumb? I’ve read many of your comments, and I often agree with you. Here, you’re using nonsensical logic.

    The problem here is that while accusing Mr. Japhy of missing the point, YOU’VE missed the point.

    This article is about which charities do best with your hard earned dollar, not which is the best cause. You say: “However, you are not, actually, assessing management by using financial ratios. You are assessing financial managment [sic].” THAT’S THE POINT! THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT!

  • trey

    except for the fact that the teaser headings on the side bar article listing for Queerty read something like, “the five best charities worth donating to” and “five charities that don’t deserve your cash.” In that light, Mr. Moag and others who are faulting the two articles for relying only or even primarily on fiscal ratios, etc., and not on the effectiveness of an organization, or the goals and communities it serves, make good points.

  • Joe Moag

    @ryanb: No, sir. If you READ the opening line of the article, it states it is looking at which charities “spend your dollar wisely”.

    People give money to charities in order to accomplish some social good that they support. Therefore, the issue of “spending a dollar wisely” is SOLELY a function of whether or not the charity is able to affect the change for which they sought and received your donation.

    THAT is measured by whether or not the charity delivers on its promises: its mission and its programming objectives.

    Whether or not a charity has a “good” or “bad” working capital ratio, an endowment, or any other financial ratio has NOTHING to do with whether or not the chairty is meeting its mission, and therefore has NOTHING to do with the stated objective of this article.

    Furthermore, I have said absoultely NOTHING in these posts as to which charities I like or don’t like. I pointed out that HRC does NOT deliver on its stated goals, and therefore it is assinine to rank them a “good charity” simply because they have their financial house in order.

    Try reading with your eyes and not your mouth next time before you try jumping ugly on me.

  • notke

    I work in the philanthropic sector. We do not take these ratings seriously at all… in fact, they don’t even factor into our decisions when we vet grants. The reason why? What constitutes ‘effectiveness’ is far more complicated than can be summed up by a math statement based on what meager facts CBO’s are mandated to provide. That’s all that Charity Navigator does.

    This is why I agree with other comments that say this post does a larger disservice than it helps at all.

    If no one in the professional philanthropic world thinks Charity Navigator is worth a damn for making funding decisions, it’s a pretty good sign that individuals shouldn’t rely on them either.

    How should you decide? Look at the RESULTS the CBO gets. That takes some time and effort, can’t be turned into a math problem, or described in a facile blog post.

  • Tom Osborne

    A lot of good points — as well as several bad points — have been made in these comments. I agree that the main problem with this report is that it conflates the measures of “ideal” financial management ratios (which are subjective) into a standard by which donors should judge to whom they contribute. A charity choosing to build up a 2-year financial reserve, while it warms the cockles of the hearts of financial managers, doesn’t tell me as a contributor that they actually need — or deserve — my money more that one operating hand-to-mouth.

    Let me raise another issue, and that is the issue of charities that do nothing themselves (i.e., no direct programs) but rather make grants to other charities who are supposed to then do the work. This kind of financial ratio study seems skewed to favor that kind of grant-making organization. But in reality, to truly measure their effectiveness, you would need to know the “efficiency ratios” of the recipients of their grants, wouldn’t you? I mean, if I give a dollar to one of these top-rated charities, they spend 8 cents on fundraising and administration, but the programmatic charities they give to then spend another 15 cents of each dollar on fundraising and administration, how is giving to them more “efficient” than giving directly to those programmatic charities that only spend 15 cents on the dollar on F&A? On the surface these “middlemen” charities look extremely efficient, but you’re not reflecting the full picture.

  • Jeffrey

    The Gill Foundation sponsors a digest every year for donors and foundations that compares LGBT organizations and their financial effectiveness. The digest is called the MAP Project (The Movement Advancement Project) and it does an amazing job of taking each LGBT organization’s financials, strips out the standard marketing bull***t that every organization puts in its financials and annual reports and provides hard-nosed, objective numbers like liquidity ratios, days of working capital and fundraising effectiveness. The Project is an important resource because it not only allows readers to be able to compare organizations on an apples-to-apples basis but it also allows the same organizations a fair chance to explain discrepancies and inadequacies in their financials.

    PS – It is deceptive to analyze the HRC Foundation’s financials and not the HRC’s main organization as well. The Foundation is a FRACTION of the size of HRC. Since HRC is a 501(c)(4) and not a 501(c)(3) like other LGBT organizations, its financials are much less public and less transparent.

  • Saralikesyarr

    “best” seems to be entirely focused on how the group manages it’s own accounting.

    specifically what services each group provides seems to be an afterthought.
    How much money each group keeps in operating expenses as a reserve seems to be the main factor at whether or not the group is highly ranked.

    HRC was fifth on the list and quoted primarily because of thier 2 year cash reserves.
    yes, thier new programs are growing too, but what programs?
    HRC is notoriosly anti-genderqueer, (enda anyone?) and the idea that they are a good investment seems silly.
    Yes, they handle thier accounting well, but that does not mean that one’s dollar is going towards what one wants it to when donated.

    It simply means they know how to grow and stay in the black.
    Basic business management.
    Not exactly what I would call qualifications for a “best gay charaties” list.

    “best business management for gay charaties” maybe; but for me, the qualification of “best” has to be proven on the moral and ethical ground as well as financial management.
    My thoughts,

  • Mad Professah

    HRC on a list of LGBT charities one should donate to? That’s crazy talk! I’m a mathematics professor and saying that one can just look at the numbers to determine which LGBT charity will actually do the most good is incredibly short-sighted.

    There ARE metrics one can use to measure non-profit effectiveness, and percentage of funds spent on administration is not the first one I would use.

    I gave my biggest donations this year to The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Equality California (everyone should give to their local statewide LGBT group) and The Center for Health Justice.

  • Jannah

    Some of the selections look dubious to me. But one is totally right on. The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has earned its first-place rank by really delivering help to many queer women in need of it. They are doing the most excellent work and deserve the recognition.

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    GMHC has a homophobic reputation as does Housing Works, the 2 largest AIDS Service Organizations in the country. Why? No-one asks…

  • corey

    I have to disagree with the HRC vote. If my memory serves me correct, they put their political support, they have many times in fact, towards anti-gay politicians.

    Also, a while back, there was a plan to have their main head office designed to look like their symbol; the equal sign, so when a plan flew by, those looking down would say; “Hey looksie there…and large equal sign…that must mean that gays are equal to everyone else..”

    Um….that is when I stopped giving them money and stopped keeping their little equal sign anywhere in my sight because its such a disappointment to think that my money is being used for decorative buildings and anti-gay politicians.

  • Danielle

    Okax so in a few months im starting a fundraiser and the proceeds will be going to a chairty but i dont know wich one. Any sudgestions? =D

  • Alfonzo

    Thanks guys,

    I’m planning our media partnership recommendations (at my job) for next year (even though this list is from last year) and I’m definitely taking this information into consideration.

  • Jon Lim

    i would like to get more info about this organization

  • imed

    imad. b 23 years:
    I am a young man from Algeria 23 years and gay, I owe a debt of money borrowed from one person to do a small project, a sale of cleaning equipment, but unfortunately, the project failed and went bankrupt and I want you to help me by dividing the amount small, you feel for me is 1500 Euros, and the owner of the money he wants his money back and I’m in big problem and it has threatened Neither would complaint to me one day, the police and the prison and I’m afraid of prison, I want to help me because I wrote to many Arabs Not Ieirona no attention: My name is: Imad Bockeraa address: Title 400 neighborhood houses district No. 24 Article 60 of the wilaya of Mila Algeria and I hope you send the amount in the package because I do not have a bank account outside I have a postal account only internal and I hope you help me and I thank you in advance and thank you very much

  • doran dan


  • Tommie

    I desperately need help paying for a $10-$15,000 double hernia surgery. Where can I get help my bf and I can almost barely afford the bills we have. I live in Butler County Middletown Ohio my cell is [email protected] 841-5368

  • ashton_giese

    Don’t forget to give to those that would suffer the most from a reversal of support in the US – the LGBTIQ community around the world – already under dictators and despots!

    Support OutRight Action International – formerly the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Since 1990, OutRight has served the global LGBTIQ community, creating partnerships and changing hearts, minds and laws in the advance of human rights.

    OutRight also currently has consultative status at the United Nations, enabling it to bring documentation of human rights abuses as well as activists themselves to meet with UN agencies and other governments.

    Thank you!

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