Often the only resource serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a region, LGBT community centers provide vital services to more than 40,000 people each week. According to a report released Friday, both large and small centers reported increased revenue, for combined 2015 revenue of $176 million, and smaller centers, often operating in locations and communities that are least accepting of LGBT people, experienced a 17% increase in revenue over the course of 2014 to 2015 compared to a 6% increase for large centers.
Authored by CenterLink and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the 2016 LGBT Community Center Survey Report: Assessing the Capacity and Programs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers, surveyed 143 LGBT community centers from 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Other report findings are summarized below.
CLIENTS & DIVERSITY
- Participating LGBT centers serve over 43,500 individuals in a typical week and refer over 6,000 individuals to other agencies for services and assistance.
- LGBT community center clientele is diverse, and community centers often offer tailored programming: 82% of LGBT community centers offer specific programming for LGBT youth, 88% for transgender people, 61% for LGBT older adults, and 51% for LGBT people of color.
“Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is the only LGBT community center in a 200 mile radius and we serve nearly 10,000 people a year,” said MGLCC Executive Director Will Batts. “We are truly a lifeline for LGBT people, especially the most vulnerable members of the community. Without Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, LGBT people in West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and East Arkansas would be isolated and without crucial services and support.”
SERVICES & PROGRAMS
In many regions, local LGBT centers are the only organizations serving the LGBT community, offering a variety of much-needed resources including:
- Physical and Mental Health Programs: Large centers spent approximately 20% of their 2015 budgets on physical health and 16% on mental health, including general health and wellness programs, medical and pharmacy services, STD/HIV prevention and treatment, counseling, and facilitated support groups.
- Social and Recreational Programs: LGBT community centers offer a range of opportunities for patrons, including social groups for targeted populations, summer camps for LGBT youth, and sports leagues.
- Arts and Cultural Programs: Centers often offer arts and cultural programming, such as gallery space and film screenings.
- Community Outreach and Civic Engagement:LGBT community centers target community outreach to the general public, to schools and healthcare providers, and to policymakers in their communities, among other populations.
STAFFING & REVENUES
- Revenue Sources. Forty-five percent of 2015 revenues of large centers were from government grants (federal, state, and local combined), followed by 14% from individual donors and 10% from fundraising events. Foundation funding was only 10% of center revenue.
- Staff. Despite the increase in average center revenue, many centers still struggle with a lack of funding and resources; 31% of all surveyed centers have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers; and 63% have five or fewer paid staff. More than half of center staff (53%) identify as people of color.
Given the critical role of LGBT community centers in areas of the country with few other resources for LGBT people, small centers in particular are in critical need of additional financial support.
“Last legislative session, we saw more than 200 bills targeting LGBT people,” said Terry Stone, CEO of CenterLink. “Community Centers like the Center for Equality in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are often the only resource for isolated LGBT people. As a terrible bill targeting transgender people moved through the legislature, this center continued to hold monthly meetings that brought together transgender people to discuss issues that affect their day-to-day lives.”
The full report is available online.