Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

After Trump, LGBT groups forced to pivot


Molly Tafoya. Photo: Courtesy MAP
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A mere two years after the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, LGBTQ organizations throughout the United States have been forced to make a profound shift in their priorities, according to think tank Movement Advancement Project, based in Boulder, Colorado. Instead of pursuing broad pro-LGBTQ legislation, these organizations were forced by the November 2016 election to pivot and fight back as equality fell under relentless attack.

The MAP-authored 2017 National Movement Report, released December 19, documents and analyzes trends in revenue, expenses, financial health, fundraising, staff, and boards for 39 LGBTQ social justice organizations. MAP also produces a biennial report that surveys community centers and other policy papers.

Founded in 2006 to provide "rigorous research, insight, and analysis [to] help speed equality for LGBT people," MAP works primarily in three areas: policy/issue analysis, increasing LGBTQ movement capacity, and developing effective messaging.

MAP selected the report's participating organizations based on size, importance to the overall LGBTQ movement, and coverage of issues and constituencies, according to Molly Tafoya, director of community engagement. Several local LGBTQ organizations were among those surveyed: Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and the Transgender Law Center. One organization preferred not to be listed, according to the MAP website.

Those 39 organizations combined had a 2016 revenue of $230.1 million. Nationwide, MAP estimates that more than 500 LGBTQ organizations spend about $530 million each year.

"We cannot afford to lose ground," asserted Ineke Mushovic, MAP executive director. "As the administration rolls back important non-discrimination protections for transgender Americans, as states advance efforts to expand religious exemption laws, as the Supreme Count considers the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, LGBT organizations must battle on multiple fronts to protect hard-earned gains."

The Masterpiece case, which the justices heard oral arguments for earlier this month, looks at whether a person's First Amendment right – to speech, religion, expression, or association – trumps laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

The 2017 MAP Report called out four key findings.


Revenue, expenses are growing

The report notes an 11 percent aggregate revenue increase from 2015 to 2016, and a five-year 26 percent overall revenue increase. In the same time frames, MAP found a steady increase in expenses, from $198.6 million in 2015 to $217 million in 2016, considering 35 organizations only. For all 39 organizations, the 2016 expenses were $223.9 million.

Eighty percent of expenses were spent on programs and services. Participating organizations estimated a 7 percent expense increase in 2017; final 2017 numbers were not available due to the timing of the report.

In comparison to those totals, the Nonprofit Times calculated that 2016 revenue for the top 100 nonprofit organizations nationwide increased 2.6 percent and expenses increased by about 5 percent.

Donor bases

The report found more medium- and large-size donors, but fewer small donors.

Individual donor contributions continue to make up the largest segment of revenue, about 35 percent, according to the report. Participating organizations experienced a 16 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. Between 2012 and 2016, contributions from small donors (under $1,000) decreased by 5 percent, but growth in large (over $25,000) and medium ($1,000 to $25,000) donors more than compensated for that drop. Since 2012, the number of large donors increased by more than 55 percent with a 10 percent increase in 2016.

In a study of overall U.S. individual giving, Giving USA found that individual giving increased by 3.9 percent in 2016. This is much lower than the 16 percent MAP reported.

"One possibility is that donors are increasing their contributions in the new political climate, but we lack the data to examine that," Tafoya said.

The report noted concern with the drop in small donors as they comprise 94 percent of total donors. According to previous MAP reports, this trend has been consistent since 2014.


Staff, board diversity

The report found that while staff diversity is improving among nonprofits, boards are less varied.

MAP found about 40 percent of staff identify as Hispanic/Latino(a), African-American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, multi-racial or other, but that is true of only 31 percent of the boards of directors. The report also suggested why there is less diversity among board members when it documented that 42 percent of directors are required to donate or solicit contributions of $5,000 or above for their organizations. Only 13 percent of directors are on boards with no such requirement.

Tafoya did point out that "while the report doesn't track board diversity over time, we have noticed that participating organizations are paying increased attention to diversity at all levels, from staffing to boards to programs."

Staff gender identity is 47 percent women, 45 percent men, and 11 percent transgender people. About 60 percent are between the ages of 30 and 54.

Twenty-five organizations provided sexual orientation numbers for staff: 54 percent identified as gay or lesbian, 17 percent as straight, 8 percent as bisexual and 20 percent as other. Thirty nonprofits provided the same numbers for their boards: 72 percent gay or lesbian, 10 percent straight, 3 percent bisexual, and 16 percent other.

Roger Doughty, president of Horizons Foundation, which makes grants to LGBTQ organizations and other groups, said his organization has been dedicated for years to ensuring its staff and board reflect the community it serves.

"Even as there is always room for improvement, the foundation has long been – and is today – proud to be guided by a diverse board and staff, including those at leadership positions," he wrote in an email.


Few LGBTQs donate to LGBTQ orgs

In spite of consistent increases in revenue from individual contributions, MAP-analyzed data since 2010 indicates very few LGBTQ people contribute to the legal, advocacy, and public education organizations included in the report. In 2016, the report estimates only 2.8 percent of LGBTQ people donated to the 39 participating organizations, a slight drop from past years.

Although studies suggest that approximately two-thirds of U.S. households make charitable contributions each year according to Tafoya, she said, "It is certain that a greater share of LGBT people donate to both LGBT and non-LGBT causes than reflected in this estimate, given that there are many organizations not tracked in this report, like community centers, state and local LGBT organizations, LGBT arts organizations and so forth."

Officials with some of the surveyed nonprofits said that their work has never been more important.

"Support for LGBT organizing, and particularly for work led by and for transgender people of color, has never been more critical," said Kris Hayashi, executive director of TLC in Oakland. "We are extraordinarily grateful that in this moment of intense attack, funders and individuals have invested in TLC's work to keep transgender and gender-nonconforming people alive, thriving and fighting for liberation."

TLC recently opened an office in New York City. Hayashi said it's because the organization is now national in focus. Three years ago it opened an office in Atlanta in partnership with Southerners on New Ground.

"The opening of our new East Coast office builds on our work over the past several years, through programs like Positively Trans and our National Training Institute, to show up for our community and trust in the power of trans people on the ground," Hayashi said.

Doughty said Horizons has a "strong, loyal, and growing core of donors giving at leadership levels."

"So much giving happens in the last 10 days of the year that it's hard for us to tell how 2017 will compare to 2016," he wrote in an email.


The full 2017 report, as well as the previous seven MAP reports, are viewable at

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