STUDY: LGBTs Probably Spend More Getting Wasted Than They Do On LGBT Organizations

Every year, the Movement Advancement Project analyzes the financial documents of 40 major LGBT organizations (including PFLAG, GLAAD, SLDN, Lambda Legal and The Trevor Project) and releases a report. We’ve looked over it and will spare you the boring monetary details to bring you the following (surprising?) news: barely any LGBT people give to LGBT organizations and anti-LGBT groups raise more money by far. And you wondered why it took so long for us to win any rights in this big, dumb country of ours.

According to the analysis, less than 3 percent of the American LGBT population gives money to LGBT orgs and our top 10 anti-gay foes spend three times as much as all 40 LGBT advocacy groups in the analysis combined.

This shouldn’t come as much as a surprise as our anti-gay foes have a really great, long-time fundraising racket called THE CHURCH which continues to dredge up cash from its members even in lean times. But on the LGBT side, what gives? A pal of mine once said that if gay people invested even a fifth of what they spend at gay bars into LGBT politics, we’d be a lot further along than we are.

Of course, half-off martini night is a lot of fun.

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  • DJ Carnita

    While I agree that we could all stand to open our pockets a little wider to our LGBT Orgs, I also think it’s important to note that just because we’re spending time in bars doesn’t mean we aren’t supporting our queer institutions in the process. Does anyone remember how quickly the San Francisco nightlife community organized to raise funds for Lyon-Martin? What about Dyke March benefits? Perhaps if some of our larger rights advocacy orgs (looking at you HRC/EQCA) would step down off their pedestal and engage with our nightlife community they might be able to siphon off some of our martini dollars.

  • bagooka

    I’m not sure this is a bad thing, unless the money is going to straight bars instead of gay bars.

  • DJ Carnita

    Too keep my rant going…Queer bars and community spaces are being lost at an alarming rate and if these organizations would like to start seeing our support we need to start seeing theirs. Our social movement started in the bars and it continues in the bars and s…pills onto the streets. Every time a queer bar closes our community loses a meeting space, a support network and some of our economic and cultural might. I’d like to pose a question to queers out there: what’s more important to you — gay bars or gay marriage?

  • QJ201

    And the money that is given…goes to organizations like the HRC while small local LGBT organizations and community centers are going belly up right and left.

  • Mike in Asheville

    I gave the report a quick review. There are two glaring and significant points that the report does not take into account: 1) HIV/AIDS organizations/service groups are not included; 2) In-kind contributions are not included.

    While HIV/AIDS service groups are not strictly gay groups, the correlation cannot be dismissed. The advocacy of legal and civil rights for HIV/AIDS patients are also legal and civil rights for gays/lesbians. Since no data were collected regarding HIV/AIDS organizations, one can only make guesses or estimate based on personal experience. I would not be surprised to learn that fundraising for HIV/AIDS organizations out performs the gay/lesbian organizations included in the study at a 2:1 rate or even a 3:1 rate. I would be surprised to learn it was less than 2:1.

    What I do know, though, is the study fails to induce: AIDS bicycle races around the country, the AIDS Foundations in every large city, the Project Open Hand and Angel Food around the country, AIDS legal networks, hospice organizations, etc.

    Regarding In-kind contributions, again, I have to rely on personal experience since this area was excluded in the study. When I was on the board of directors of Friends of Oscar/Academy of Friends in San Francisco (1991-1995), every single dollar from ticket sales, raffles, and silent auctions went to HIV/AIDS service organizations. Not one penny of the money raised from the event was spent on the event or staff. This was made possible by the generous contributions of board members, their employers, and community support. The party event costs my last year there ran about $100,000 all of which was contributed by directors and sponsors. All the food and drink, the decoration, electronics, dance floors, music — every bit was donated as in-kind or paid for by sponsors. The $150,000 raised and turned over to the HIV/AIDS service groups were the combined funds donated by each individual party goer.


    Since there are 15-20 straights per each gay/lesbian, and centuries of societal homophobic bigotry, there should not be a big surprise that the hate groups raise 10-15 times more money.

    Nonetheless, every dollar helps, please find a good cause for your donations.

  • JustMeee

    If the LGBT organizations could be trusted with our money, maybe we’d be more inclined to give. As it is, I feel any donation is basically wasted.

  • ek

    This doesn’t surprise me, I know several LGBTs that just sit around and wait for change to come and then chewed me and me friends who stand up against harassment and hate speech for shoving our opinions down other peoples throats.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    If you take into consideration that many anti-LGBT organizations are secretly (and illegally) funneling large sums of money from the Catholic & LDS churches to fund their hate, I wouldn’t say that we’re doing that bad as we (hopefully) legally raise funds for LGBT organizations. There will always be more people being scared/tricked into donating money than there will be people donating money because it’s the right thing to do. Until that is rectified, we will always lag behind the fearmongers.

  • AFruit4Thought

    @JustMeee: That’s a great way to justify not giving to charity. I’ve seen people use it 100s of times when I worked for a 501(c)3. It’s a guilt-free way to sit on your ass (not that I know anything about what you do for LGBT charities – for all I know, you volunteer daily).

    My refutations are as follows:

    1. Money to HRC is better than no $$$ at all. At least the group is trying to do something. I guarantee you that the HRC rank and file is doing it because they want to make the world a better place – they sure as hell aren’t doing it for the pay.

    2. Find an organization that doesn’t suck. There are PLENTY that do great work. Give to them.

    3. If you don’t like what groups are doing, fight to change it. Join that shitty group that meets monthly in a church basement and make it into a force to be reckoned with.

    4. If you can’t afford to give, volunteer. Can’t get to the office? Many org’s will have members pick you up or will reimburse you for bus fare. You can help them make phone calls in the comfort of your own home if you have unlimited day time minutes. You can raise money with your friends. Be creative.

    5. I felt like there should be a fifth point.

  • Huadude

    Frankly, gay organizations have been such a galloping disappointment as of late that I can’t justify giving any money to them.

    HRC? Shot us in the foot over DADT, then threw cocktail parties honoring the inaction of Obama. It was Harry Reid that finally grew some balls and got the support together, not HRC, and not Obama. GetEqual, certainly, so they get my money, but they support some things I don’t like, too.

    In the end, I don’t give money to the RNC or the DNC – I don’t give money to organizations to spend how they want. I spend it on individuals; on candidates over parties. I feel I can hold a person far more accountable than I can a vast organization who receives my money and gives it to whom THEY want, not whom I do.

    I agree with giving to local organizations. The local gay church around here does great work, and they don’t ask for a tenth of the money the national parties do.

  • James

    Uh, oh. Dan Villarreal has “looked over” a financial report and is going to report its findings. It’s like having an auditor from PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the case. If by “auditor” we mean an obtuse clown who has yet to create a post without a factual error. Dan, perhaps you should stick to what you do best: creating virulently homophobic and offensive posts for NOM and other anti-gay groups to exploit.

  • sajjad ahmad

    WASHINGTON – The Obama administra­tion is announcing a wide-rangi­ng effort to use U.S. foreign aid to promote rights for gays and lesbians abroad, including combating attempts by foreign government­s to criminaliz­e homosexual­ity.
    In a memorandum issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed U.S. agencies working abroad, including the State Department and the U.S. Agency for Internatio­nal

  • Trent

    We have plenty of gay bars in Indianapolis… ok maybe like 8; but almost every bar has nights where the proceeds of stuff go to benefit something. The bar Gregs in Indy used to be called Our Place; but was renamed in honor of a guy who did tons of work with organizations that helped the Gay community. So not every night out is helping organizations; but nights that have events for charity are usually packed and raise a couple thousand. I have been told.

  • Trent

    I forgot to mention; almost all the funding goes to help local organizations in Indianapolis.

  • cynthialee

    HRC and other LGBT corporations are not entitled to our money.

    They just blow the cash on black tie events and shmoozing with the eliete.

    The real change is being effected on the local level by your local organisations, not any national group. And face it our national groups are self important and inefectual groups of wannabe elietes who pay them selves rather well.

    just sayin’

  • ewe

    Change the headline to read “YOUNG LGBTs.” Most of us age out of nightly drunken bar outings and actually are very much involved with gay organizations that have nothing to do with altering our minds. Someone is obsessed with Twinks.

  • DB

    @DJ Carnita: I am assuming you’re joking. Obviously marriage is more important than bars. While it is important to have gay community social spaces, I don’t see gay bars serving that function, at least not well and not for the vast majority of gay people. Being older than 30 and married, I do not go to bars that often and 90% of the time that I do go to a bar it is a primarily heterosexual bar. I don’t see any need to have bars segregated on sexual orientation. Inevitably the group of friends I am with will have a mix of heterosexual and gay people and so will the bars we visit.

  • the other Greg

    @DB: But as Queerty has informed us at least twice in the past week, all American advertisements for marriage equality are “lame” (Queerty’s term) and ineffective anyway.

    Also, it’s a big part of the problem that marriage somehow, mysteriously became the only important gay rights issue! (As indicated by your comment.) Marriage tends to be an upper middle class issue. Let those who are most affected by it, who can most afford it, fight for it. One can’t reasonably expect poorer people to get all that excited about it.

    If only these nationwide groups would stop treating employment discrimination – just for example – as a complete afterthought, they’d get more interest from the bar types and the local gay communities.

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