GLAAD President discusses GLAAD’s 2009 calendar year finances

Additional information as of September 24, 2010

To our valued members:

GLAAD works everyday to amplify the voices of LGBT people. It's the stories we share with millions of Americans through news and entertainment media that advance not just legal equality, but acceptance and understanding of our LGBT family members, friends and neighbors.  It's these images and stories that are quickly increasing support among Americans for our equality.

Like other not-for-profit organizations, we file tax forms every year- a 990 with the IRS and an audited financial statement included in our annual report. Rather long and complicated, these are an important part of a non-profit's accountability to the government in return for receiving its tax exemption.  I wanted to explain these forms to you because we have another accountability--an accountability to you.

As part of this accountability, we are making available to you for the first time these financial forms on our website. These forms were recently filed with the IRS for GLAAD activity in 2009.  When I started toward the end of 2009, it was at the tail end of a tough year for our nation's economy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that from 2008 to 2009, some of our nation's largest non-profits experienced an average revenue decrease of nearly 20 percent.  GLAAD was no exception to the economic malaise facing our country's charities:  our total revenue and support before direct fundraising costs were down in 2009 by approximately 15 percent from the year before.

Our total revenue and support before direct fundraising costs show that GLAAD's support in 2008 was $9.7M - a figure that does not include a large one-time gift in 2008 of several million dollars which was placed in a reserve account.  In 2009, GLAAD raised $8.2M before fundraising costs including $2.8M from the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards. Our salaries and functional expenses exceeded our net revenue, and we were left at year end with an operating deficit of approximately $1.2M.

nlike many other charities, GLAAD had reserves to cover the difference.  More importantly, as I began my tenure, it meant that GLAAD's commitment to you would move forward, but with fewer resources. This year, GLAAD is stronger and in a better financial position. We have not used our reserve account in 2010 and it has in fact, grown.

Since I began as President, our staff has worked hard to cut expenses in a number of areas and to date, we've been successful – with a reduction of $700,000 in operating expenses. This year the GLAAD Media Awards, our most visible program and fundraiser, were produced at a cost savings of nearly 15 percent compared to 2009.  We've also significantly decreased spending on outside consultants, and travel and accommodations costs are down significantly.

We have also reduced operational and administrative expenses.  My first budget decision – made with the support of GLAAD's Board of Directors - was to reduce my own salary by 10 percent and eliminate two senior administrative positions in the organization as well as reassign responsibly of a third senior position.

Today, our Board of Directors supports these difficult decisions and is united. There were 29 Board Members at the beginning of 2010 and today that number remains the same. Some members resigned, others completed their terms and other new members have joined. A majority of the 2009 Executive Committee of the Board are still Members. Under new Board leadership, a governance committee has been established. A conflict of interest and other governance policies have also been developed.

At the same time as we have cut costs, we have increased positions in our Media Programs area--hiring new staff members for national news outreach and strategic media campaigns teams.  We believe that we can continue as an organization where the capacity, quality and impact of our programmatic work are paramount. This is where our most important work is done and where we channel our resources and talent. Your continued support makes this possible.

2010 has been marked by tremendous success for GLAAD's program efforts.  The Today Show sent a powerful message to Americans when it changed its wedding contest rules to be inclusive of gay and lesbian couples. CBS President Nina Tassler committed to bringing stories of LGBT people into the living rooms of America during their prime-time programming after receiving a 'failing' grade on GLAAD's Network Responsibility Index, and we also assisted Teen Nick in developing TV's first transgender teenage character. Our National News team alerted the public and the media to anti-gay activist Bill Donahue's attacks on our community and he has since lost his media platform. Our Media Field team is on the ground in more places than ever including Florida, California and Maryland, training local organizations, couples, faith leaders and individuals to speak out for marriage and adoption and against Don't Ask, Don't Tell, among other issues. 

Meanwhile, we remain in a position where we have to continue to combat the work of anti-gay organizations working to silence our community and spreading inaccuracies about our lives. We are working to raise the voices of our community while anti-gay organizations including American Family Association and Focus on the Family operate with budgets between four and twenty times the size of GLAAD's.

As we prepare to celebrate our 25th Anniversary, I am proud to tell you this story of hard work and hard choices.  It is this reengineering in difficult times that will ensure our media advocacy can continue another 25 years.  We remain steadfast in our goal to cut expenses while sharing the stories of LGBT Americans to build support for our equality.  Your continued commitment will ensure our community's voices and stories are heard loud and clear across the country.

Jarrett T. Barrios, GLAAD President