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LGBT movement, enjoying rising public support and historic wins, gains financial clout

DENVER-- Following several years of declining revenue, LGBT social justice organizations experienced a 17% revenue increase from 2010 to 2011, according to a new report by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP).

Organizations are reaping the benefits of improved efficiency during the belt-tightening years, with increased funding, primarily fueled by an increase in individual donations, helping secure historic victories in the 2012 election.

According to the 2012 National LGBT Movement Report, LGBT organizations are projecting combined 2012 expense budgets of $158.4 million, which will represent an 11% increase from 2011, while 2011 expenses increased by 15% from 2010.

The report provides a comprehensive and standardized look at the LGBT movement's finances across 40 major LGBT organizations which collectively represent 69% of the budgets of all LGBT social justice organizations.

"Individual donors are increasing their giving to LGBT organizations -- and seeing results," said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. "There is still a lot of work to be done, but the election left no doubt that Americans support equality for LGBT people. The time for change is now, and it's heartening to see more and more donors supporting the organizations who are working tirelessly to make that change a reality."

The 2012 election brought historic gains with three states -- Maine, Maryland and Washington -- passing voter-approved ballot measures that extended the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment banning the freedom to marry, another watershed moment in the LGBT movement. However, 38 states have constitutional amendments or statutes banning marriage for same-sex couples, while federal and most state law still fails to protect a worker from being fired just because they are gay or transgender.

Some challenges remain

The report also uncovered some other challenges:

- The revenue of anti-LGBT opponents still greatly outstrips that of participating LGBT organizations, and the threat that comes from anti-LGBT initiatives funded with these dollars continues to jeopardize the lives of LGBT Americans.

- While more individual donors are giving to LGBT organizations, still only 3% of LGBT adults have donated to one of the 40 participating LGBT organizations.

- Participating organizations received, on average, almost half (44%) of 2011 revenue from their 10 largest contributors -- including individual donors, foundations and/or corporate donors.

Nothing like positive news

Despite these challenges, the overall news is positive:

- General financial health remains strong. In 2011, organizations reported nearly six months of available working capital.

- Movement groups are highly efficient in their fundraising and programming operations. On average, 80% of total expenses are dedicated to programs and services, exceeding the nonprofit efficiency benchmarks set by American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) and Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB).

- The staff of participating organizations is diverse, roughly mirroring the broader U.S. population with 34% identifying as people of color, and a lower percentage of senior staff (29%) identifying as people of color. Also, 49% are women and 7% identify as transgender.

- Responsive fiscal management and expense reductions over the past few years have protected participating organizations, leaving them in a stronger position to capture and build upon a newly growing revenue base.

"Our recent success has been tremendous," said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. "The increased support from individual donors will also help us drive forward with other critical work. For example, LGBT youth continue to experience bullying and high suicide rates. Transgender adults face pervasive discrimination in the workplace and in our daily lives. We've proved, however, that strong organizations can and will make a difference."

About MAP

Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.