Activism: Who’s funding our movement?

Funding sources

For many of the leaders of these organizations, the bottom line comes down to, well, the bottom line: If LGBT Georgians want equality, from laws to access to health care, we have to be willing to chip in.

All nine of the LGBT and HIV organizations surveyed listed donations among the top three things individuals can do to help them achieve their 2013 priorities (See story, pages 4-5).

Five of the nine organizations also included funding when asked about either the biggest misconception about their group or the most important thing that needs to happen to accomplish their overall mission.

“Pragmatically, if every individual who could donate even a few dollars per year actually donated those few dollars, many HIV and LGBT agencies would have the abundance necessary to continue their work,” said Michael Baker, director of advancement for Positive Impact, which provides mental health and other services related to HIV.

The 2012 National LGBT Movement Report, which looked at the finances of 40 major LGBT organizations (none in Georgia), found that only 3 percent of LGBT adults gave $35 or more to one of these groups last year.

Georgia’s LGBT population is estimated at 293,932, according to statistics from the Williams Institute. How many of those donate to Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group? Only 368 — that’s just 0.125 percent of our population.

“People think that we are affiliated with and receive financial support from national organizations. While we certainly collaborate with most national LGBT groups, we do not receive financial support,” said Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality executive director. “We are also the only organization working on broad LGBT policy issues statewide and in local communities.”

The Health Initiative, billed as “Georgia’s voice for LGBTQ health,” is devoted to advocacy, education, support, and improved access to care.

“Honestly, scarcity of funding is our greatest roadblock,” said Executive Director Linda Ellis.

The same holds true for Ronnie Bass, founder of Someone Cares, Inc. The most important thing to achieve its mission for African-American and Latino LGBT people impacted by HIV and other health disparities?

One word: “Fundraising.”