CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city’s single-largest non-profit funder of local LGBT organizations said Friday it has offered conditional support to the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte following several months of questions over the group’s financial stability.
The Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund, through board member Steve Bentley, informed qnotes about the funding decision on Friday, two days after their annual fundraising luncheon and announcing their 2014 grant awards. The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte’s grant award was not included alongside other grant recipients in a program book at Wednesday’s The Happening luncheon.
The fund’s board of advisors has set aside $19,950 for the center, but is withholding all but approximately $3,000. The rest of the grant award will be held “until certain financial and governance best practices have been established,” the fund said.
The center has been under increasing scrutiny over its financial stability, transparency and accountability. In late May, qnotes reported that the center had failed to pay its sole employee on time and owed at least $7,000 in outstanding federal and state payroll taxes. Former center board Chair Roberta Dunn since resigned from the board after it became clear she had failed to properly communicate with fellow board members about the center’s financial status.
The fund — which on Wednesday said “transparency, inclusion and commitment” were its three guiding principles for grant awards this year — said it undertook a diligent review of the center’s status during grant deliberations this year.
“During grant deliberations by stakeholders of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund in April, grant recommendations were made to support the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte,” the fund’s statement reads. “This recommendation, along with all others, was submitted to the Board of Advisors of the Fund for approval. Subsequent to the stakeholder recommendation, and prior to board approval, additional information came to light regarding the financial situation at the Center. Representatives of the board met with former Center board chair Roberta Dunn and Center Operations Manager Glenn Griffin several times to gather additional information about the Center’s current status. All information gathered was shared with the full Fund board.”
The conditional support was offered as a result of those conversations and the fund’s information-gathering.
The fund said they wish the best for the center’s future planning.
“It is the Fund board’s great hope that the Center will regain its footing so that the grant monies can be awarded,” the group said.
If the funding criteria remains unmet, the fund will apply the center’s withheld grant monies to next year’s grant awards.
The fund is currently the center’s single-largest individual donor. It has granted more than $101,000 of support to the center since 2007.
Contacted by email on Friday, new LGBT center board Chair Ranzeno Frazier said he was aware of the fund’s grant decision this year and the criteria set forth by the group. He and other remaining board members, including Jenni Richeson, are working to resolve past financial questions and redirect the center toward strategic planning and development.
“With the center in its rebirthing stage … they are working with us to make sure that we do everything the correct way,” Frazier said.
In a previously-released letter to the community (PDF), Frazier — who became chair following Dunn’s resignation — promised greater transparency and accountability.
“Though the board and the LGBT Center has had its struggles, I look at this current opportunity as a chance at rebirth,” Frazier wrote in the letter. “In the short time that I have been in this role, I’ve begun taking care of some outstanding business of the organization; meeting with our landlord to get the rent for our location lowered, settling outstanding tax debts, and reconciling relationships within the LGBT community.”
Frazier said the center is currently seeking interested individuals to serve on the organization’s board of trustees. One of the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund’s criteria is that the center increase the number of board members active with the center.
“I believe in the concept of total transparency with regards to the operations of the center and it is my personal commitment to the LGBT and greater Charlotte community that, with every step taken to move the center forward, the people that we serve will be first in mind,” Frazier wrote in his letter to the community. “I’ve hit the ground running and I’m not tired yet! I look forward to working with the LGBT Community to provide maximum impact for the greater Charlotte community!”
The Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund is a giving circle of individual donors and stakeholders and operates as an endowment initiative of the Foundation For The Carolinas.