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Back to 2014 InFocus: Non-Profits Community Assessment Survey Index…

A first-ever representative survey of 10 LGBT non-profits with donors in the Charlotte area reveals a new picture of the local major donor community. The survey finds near-even support split between national and local groups and a new glimpse into local giving patterns.

qnotes utilized publicly available lists of major donors from non-profit organizations serving the LGBT community and based in Charlotte or those with a significant local presence. The donor records were compiled from groups’ websites, event program books and other sources. Groups represented in the survey, undertaken this year as part of our annual Community Assessment Survey reporting, included a mix of national and local groups, those offering direct services or client support and arts, education and advocacy groups.

A total of 201 individual donors giving at the $500 level and above were identified, representing at least $285,300 in giving. Of that total minimum amount, $162,800, or 57 percent, was given to organizations with a national mission or focus. Groups with a local mission or focus received $122,500, or 43 percent.

Few major donors

The relatively small number of identified individual major donors — an average of just 20 per group — bolsters data collected for last year’s non-profit review. Participating organizations were asked to share the total number of individual donors who had given at any level to their groups.

Combined, the 10 groups reported a total of 4,164 individual contributors. There are two ways to apply that number to the larger LGBT community. As reported last year, it represents just 1.7 percent of more than 240,000 LGBT people or potential straight allies living in Charlotte, according to a 2011 Public Policy Polling survey of Charlotte residents which found 32 percent of respondents identified as LGBT or had a friend or family member who identified as LGBT. A more generous percentage can be found using a 2012 Gallup poll which found 3.3 percent of North Carolina residents identified as LGBT; if extrapolated to the population of Charlotte, the portion of LGBT individual contributors to local non-profits rises to 17 percent.

Low rates of LGBT philanthropic giving are seen nationwide. The Movement Advancement Project’s “2013 National LGBT Movement Report” revealed that only about three percent of LGBT adults had donated $35 or more to one of the organizations it surveyed. Unlike qnotes’ survey, the project’s report did not take into account possible duplication among donors and further assumed all donors identify as LGBT.

“This suggests that the vast majority of LGBT adults in the U.S. do not currently financially support these leading LGBT organizations,” the Movement Advancement Project wrote. “Note that this analysis does not assess overall giving to all LGBT organizations by LGBT adults; this larger analysis would need to include LGBT adults who have donated to organizations not included in this report, as well as donors who have given under $35.”

Major donors favor two groups

Many major donors often contributed to other organizations at levels below $500. While only two percent of major donors contributed to three or more groups — with just one percent giving to four or more groups — a far larger portion, 14 percent, gave to two or more groups.

Among the latter, major donors seemed to favor two organizations — one local and one national.

The most popular group chosen for donations was the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund; 69 percent of donors giving to two or more groups donated to the dedicated giving fund through its annual stakeholders program. The funds raised represented a total of at least $60,000. Donations to the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund are pooled and redirected to other local community groups in the fund’s annual grant making process.

Sixty-two percent of donors giving to two or more groups contributed to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) through their Federal Club Council and Federal Club giving programs. Funds from local major donors to HRC accounted for at least $154,800.

Sixty-six percent of major donors giving to two or more groups included at least one gift to an organization with a national mission or focus and one gift to an organization with a local mission or focus.

All told, 33 percent of all identified major donors gave to HRC and 30 percent gave to the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund.

Charlotte-area donors accounted for 40 percent of major Carolinas-area donors to HRC, raising 45 percent of the total minimum $341,200 in Federal Club Council and Federal Club giving.


Infographic compiled and created by Cameron Joyce.


Data sources: qnotes’ survey examined the most recently available, public lists of major donors from 10 organizations, compiled from groups’ websites, event program books or annual reports. In three cases, organizations submitted already-public donor information directly to qnotes. The information represents contributions made any time between late 2012 and late 2014. The newspaper and its staff also published several public or semi-public notifications to local organizational leaders informing them of our search for donor data; two organizations responded.

Organizations reviewed: Campus Pride (national education/advocacy, locally-based), Human Rights Campaign (national education/advocacy, significant local presence), Hearts Beat as One (philanthropy), Charlotte Pride (education and awareness), Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund (philanthropy), Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (direct services), Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (political advocacy), One Voice Chorus (arts), Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte (arts) and Charlotte Pride Band (arts).

Organizational finances: Organizations’ revenues ranged from under $50,000 annually to over $50 million annually.

Determining number of individual donors: Donor names were verified as living in Charlotte or the immediately surrounding metro area. Donors outside of the metro area were not counted. Donors whose residences could not be adequately confirmed were not counted. Couples who contributed together were counted as single donors. Small groups of individuals who gave collectively were counted as single donors. National corporations and organizations were not counted. Local businesses or business owners who regularly donate under their corporate name were counted. Two small non-profit foundations, the Wesley Mancini Foundation and Gee Family Foundation, were each counted as individual donors. Newspaper staff reviewed only individual donor lists; corporate sponsor lists were not reviewed. : :

Context and background:
Editor Matt Comer shares important background facts and context for this year’s Community Assessment Survey, in addition to some personal analysis and takeaways from this year’s data. Read more in the Editor’s Note column.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.