Op-ed: Let Your Money Talk to Help LGBT Organizations

A new report shows that less than 3% of LGBT adults in the U.S. gave money to any national LGBT organization, but that hasn’t stopped those who don’t donate from criticizing.

BY Jimmy Nguyen

December 26 2011 11:15 AM ET

I don’t agree with a particular organization or its leadership.
This can be a fair point. You will not always agree with every organization’s mission, tactics, results or leaders. You should not support groups that do not win your confidence. But surely, there must be some LGBT entity you can get behind. Disliking one organization is no excuse for abstaining from all of them.

Too much of my money will be spent on the non-profit organization’s overhead.
This raises another legitimate issue. You should rightfully expect a good portion of your money to advance the organization’s critical mission. At the same time, funds are needed to keep offices open and to pay the staff who works tirelessly for our rights. Do your homework to ensure you are comfortable that your chosen LGBT group will use your money efficiently. But don’t refuse to donate merely because non-profit entities must pay for overhead.

I can’t decipher between all the LGBT organizations.
For anyone who’s ever had this thought, I hear you. There are indeed many LGBT groups, and some would say too many. They all are well-intentioned, and it can be difficult for the casual observer to figure out the differences between all the acronyms and often overlapping mission statements. You may also be asked by multiple friends to give money to each of their respective causes. Like me, you may not want to play favorites. But you might have to. Think about which LGBT issues means the most to you. It could be marriage equality, immigration fairness, adoption rights, HIV/AIDS research and prevention, ending LGBT youth bullying, transgender rights, workplace advocacy, or LGBT arts. Find the one, two or even three organizations that best advance your causes of passion, and give them some cash.


There are many reasons why it’s easy to keep your wallet closed. But there are so many better reasons to open it. Like me, you have hopefully marveled at the LGBT equality advances of the past decade. LGBT people are increasingly protected from discrimination. Gays and lesbians can finally serve openly in the military. Same-sex couples can adopt children in most states and can now even marry in a few states. These and so many other LGBT rights would not have been achievable without the work of many social justice groups and donors who helped fund their work.

Recently, I attended a wedding celebration for my good friend Albert and his now-husband. They live in Washington, D.C., and could take advantage of the District’s recognition of same-sex marriage. I watched them bring their respective relatives from Hong Kong and the United States together to create a bigger international family. I saw many smiles and much love. And I was reminded of the real-life reasons why LGBT organizations exist to speak for us.

There remains much work ahead. To achieve a nation of full equality, it will take far more than the financial support of 3% of the LGBT population. To you in the other 97%, I call upon you. Keep using your voice to speak up for LGBT rights, but it’s time to also let your money talk.

 

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