Some people are getting the wrong idea. They look at our well-designed announcements and newsletters, come to our crowded, free conferences, and conclude that we are rolling in money. Would that it were so!
Though CLAGS is an official Center of The CUNY Graduate School, CUNY contributes nothing to our direct costs. We have to raise our budget entirely from outside sources — from individual donors and from foundations.
How then do we manage to accomplish so much in such elegant style? First, we are blessed with dedicated volunteers. Every member of our Board serves on at least one of our subcommittees where most of the work gets done. In addition, when the time comes to do a mailing or to staff an event, gay and lesbian graduate students at CUNY generously donate their time. As for this classy newsletter, the articles are written entirely by Board Members, and two other volunteers contribute the long hours needed to prepare the text for printing.
Second, while CUNY makes no direct contribution to our budget, it does give us several in-kind contributions.
These include free office space, fourth class mailing privileges, access to a low-cost design and print shop, a part-time work/ study student to staff the CLAGS office, and the right to hold our events in the Graduate School’s auditorium.
But that still leaves us with an $82,000 yearly budget that has to be raised a dime at a time. We manage this feat with difficulty. The foundation world is not yet widely hospitable to funding gay and lesbian activities; out of some 50 proposals submitted, we have gotten positive responses from only five. These have included substantial break-through awards from the Rockefeller and Diamond Foundations, and for three years running a generous grant from the gay-oriented Rapoport Foundation.
But in order to survive and prosper, CLAGS learned early on that we cannot rely solely or even primarily on foundation support. Survival depends largely on the ability to attract and hold individual donors. For a comparatively new organization, CLAGS has done remarkably well in this regard; many hundreds of people have sent in small checks to help us in our work, and over 130 people have contributed $100 or more. This is a fine beginning in building a donor base. But there is much more that we would like to do had we the financial resources to do it.
And so, dear reader, be disabused of those rumors of our rich coffers — and please send us your contributions. We are happy that the rumors emanated from the multiplicity and excellence of our offerings. But our work can continue to prosper only if you, our individual donors, realize that we are reliant on and not on CUNY or on foundations, for our ability to move forward.
Please mail in the enclosed envelope today? We need your support — and like to think we have earned it.