During the past two years, CLAGS has been educating itself about organizational development and fundraising. Grants from the New York City Lesbian and Gay Funding Collaborative and the Rockefeller Foundation have enabled board members and staff to attend workshops and conferences designed to expand our knowledge about non-profit management and to increase our fundraising and organizational skills. Here’s some of what we’ve learned: Of the estimated $144 billion given away to non-profit organizations each year, the vast majority comes from individuals.* In fact, only 6 percent of the $144 billion comes from foundations. The stingiest givers of all-corporations-give a meager 4 percent. (What most people don’t realize is that corporations spend more money publicizing their charitable giving than they do on the actual gifts themselves!) Individuals donate the rest, 90 percent, or approximately $130 billion annually. Most of us in the lesbian and gay c0mmunity receive a deluge of solicitations. And the fact is, most of us give, whatever our income level. Eighty percent of the $130,000 billion given to non-profits last year came from households where the income was $50,000 or less. The ability to give is not what distinguishes most donors; rather, it’s the desire to give.
Like other lesbian and gay organizations, CLAGS relies heavily on the support of individual donors-members I ike yourself who give at whatever level they can: $10 or $35 or $500. This support is critical to the future of the organization because it is not affected by what’s in fashion. Although both private and public funders (foundations and government agencies) have been • immensely important to CLAGS, we recognize the imperative for community-based support. Without your financial commitment to our work-without your investment in our mission-CLAGS’s future would shrink before our eyes. With these facts in mind, CLAGS has undertaken two important fundraising campaigns. This May, CLAGS launched its first ever major donor campaign. CLAGS board members met with prospective donors in an effort to identify 30 individuals who can contribute $1,500 annually for the next three to five years to support our core programs. These donors will become charter members of the CLAGS Dean’s List. The Dean’s List will fund the essentials that most foundations, corporations, and government agencies refuse to fund: the day-to-day work of supporting lesbian and gay academics and students, facilitating research on the lesbian and gay experience, and serving as a national center for the promotion of scholarship which fosters social change. Even City University of New York, where (LAGS has found a welcoming home for six years, contributes a fraction of the funds we need to fulfill our mission. To complement this campaign, and to insure the broadest base of support possible, CLAGS will undertake a membership drive in the Fall. Through a combination of direct mail and individual sol icitations, CLAGS board members wi II seek to identify 1 00 new donors at the basic membership level: $10 for students and those with limited incomes, $35 for individuals, and $50 for households. Healthy non-profits receive about 40 percent of their income from 90 percent of their donors: basic memberships, special events, etc. If CLAGS is to continue to grow, we must attract new donors at basic membership levels each year. CLAGS would like to enlist you-our most trusted supporters-in these two important campaigns. Please consider joining the CLAGS Dean’s List or identifying two brand new members. Please take a moment to think about how you can best participate. Finally, all of us at CLAGS are enormously grateful for the support you’ve given in the past. As we seek to protect and advance our dream-of an academy where lesbian and gay scholarship is honored and where racism, sexism, and homophobia are studied, not enacted-we look to your leadership and generosity to pave the way.
* All of the figures cited were supplied by Stephanie Roth, organizational consultant and publisher, with Kim Klein, of The Grassroots Fundraising journal.