The survey is designed to gauge community organizations’ financial health and measure their commitment to transparency. This year, qnotes reviewed 18 non-profit organizations based in the Carolinas and doing the bulk of their work in the region.
The data collected this year represents a full six years’ worth of financial filings for some organizations after the newspaper was able to review two years of data in 2013. The information is drawn from organizations’ Forms 990, the end-of-year tax returns non-profit organizations are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service.
The survey, inspired by similar initiatives by other media and non-profit organizations, had three specific goals this year. As with past surveys, this year’s review sought to document the general expenses and revenue of non-profit organizations, as well as their general occupancy and salary expenses. For the first time, the survey also included a year-over-year review of five organizations which have been included in the newspaper’s annual review since it began in 2010. Finally, the survey also undertook an effort to review major donor giving patterns among organizations based in or with a significant local presence in the Charlotte area; see our accompanying story on page 11 for more.
Each year’s survey is also an opportunity to test non-profit organizations’ commitments to transparency and compliance with IRS regulations requiring their annual Forms 990 filings. Most organizations have excelled in keeping their annual filings updated and most already publish their annual Forms 990. Those who don’t publish their 990s receive written requests from the newspaper for disclosure.
All but four of the organizations reviewed this year had publicly available Forms 990 or disclosed them to the newspaper when requested. One of the four, South Carolina Equality, received written disclosure requests from qnotes on Sept. 22 and Sept. 29. The organization does not have what should be its latest Form 990 available on its website, Guidestar.org or a database of Form 990 filings at the Foundation Center. It did not reply to or acknowledge qnotes’ Form 990 request.
Two organizations have not yet filed their Forms 990. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte said it has requested an extension. Charlotte Black Gay Pride is in the process of having their tax-exempt status reinstated after it was automatically revoked by the IRS in May 2012. The IRS automatically revokes the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(3) non-profits after they fail to file the appropriate Form 990 for three years in a row.
A fourth organization, Hearts Beat as One Foundation, has not yet been required to file a Form 990. Founded in April 2014, it’s first filing will be made next year. Hearts Beat as One was given the opportunity to voluntarily disclose their 2014 financial information and did so. Last year, qnotes made the same opportunity available to Charlotte Pride and Different Roads Home, both of which filed their first Forms 990 this year, which are included in this year’s survey.
Our first Community Assessment Survey in 2010 saw an historic showing of transparency. All but one of the 21 organizations asked to participate were able to disclose their Forms 990 and 17 voluntarily completed an in-depth survey requesting further organizational information. Participation in the Community Assessment Survey dropped in 2011, when 16 groups were asked to participate and nine — more than half — declined to complete the survey or disclose Forms 990.
In 2012 and 2013, participation rose significantly. This year, every organization — with the exception of South Carolina Equality — had publicly available Forms 990, replied to qnotes’ disclosure requests or acknowledged the request with the current status of their filing process.
Revenues and expenses
Almost all organizations reviewed this year saw increases in their 2013 revenues. There were only three exceptions: Carolinas Care Partnership, Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) and the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte. Each of their revenues declined slightly from 2012.
RAIN’s declined one percent from $881,132 in 2012 to $871,831 in 2013. Carolinas Care Partnership also declined one percent, from $1,548,623 in 2012 to $1,533,957 in 2013.
The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte declined four percent from $53,796 in 2012 to $51,802 in 2013.
As in prior years, funds spent on occupancy and salary expenses were mostly stable and balanced. The highest salary expenses were seen in organizations with larger staffs, all of which offer direct client services or have advocacy/organizing or policy staff. Occupancy expenses rose only slightly, often due to moves to larger locations prompted by increases in organizations’ capacities and programs. Of the three community center-type organizations, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte spent the largest share of its expenses on occupancy rates. The group’s total expenses were $93,925, of which 50 percent represented occupancy expenses. In contrast, the LGBT Center of Raleigh spent just 18 percent of its expenses on occupancy and Time Out Youth Center just five percent. Of all 18 organizations surveyed, the Charlotte LGBT center had the highest occupancy expenses as a share of its total expenses. The center’s occupancy expenses also accounted for nearly all the money it raised, representing 91 percent of its $51,802 in revenue. The group operated at a $42,123 deficit, eating into a $43,730 cash reserve and leaving only $10,476 by the end of the year.
Strong growth for some
For the first time in our Community Assessment Survey, qnotes compiled year-over-year data from 2008 to 2013 on five organizations which have participated in our survey each year. The data suggests that many local and regional LGBT non-profit organizations have experienced better than average support and growth in revenues and expenses from 2008-2013. That growth bucks national trends and has allowed some to bulk up services, programming and staff.
The Movement Advancement Project tracks national LGBT social justice organizations in its annual “National LGBT Movement Report.” According to their reviews, revenues for national organizations have seen more slight increases over the past few years. From 2011 to 2012, national organizations’ revenues rose by just four percent. From 2010 to 2011, a double-digit 17 percent gain was seen, but the year before that saw only a one percent increase from 2009 to 2010.
In contrast, many local and regional Carolinas groups have seen significant double-digit percentage gains in the years since 2008, even during the Great Recession.
This growth might also suggest a stronger commitment on the part of local donors to support local organizations. Local groups in the South must often rely on local donors for a great portion of their support. National philanthropic tracking group Funders for LGBTQ Issues reports that the South receives just three to four percent of domestic LGBT grant spending, despite being home to more than a third of the nation’s LGBT adults.
The strongest performing of the five organizations reviewed was the LGBT Center of Raleigh. It’s first Form 990 filing for 2009 shows revenue of only $3,489. In 2010, its first full year of operation, the group brought in $69,557. Its growth has continued unimpeded since. Its Form 990 filing for 2013 shows $356,377 in revenue, a full 412 percent increase over 2010. As the organization has grown, it’s transitioned from volunteer staff to a part-time executive director and then to its current full-time executive director, James Miller. The group has also hired other staff and occupied three different office spaces, each increasing in size. Its expenses, naturally, have also increased, from $31,292 in 2010 to $211,109 in 2013, a 575 percent increase.
Charlotte’s Time Out Youth Center has also exhibited strong year-over-year growth. Their 2013 revenue of $319,111 was a 135 percent increase over its 2008 revenue of $135,922. Each year, the group has averaged a nearly 20 percent increase in its annual fundraising. Time Out Youth’s growth has coincided with two strong executive directors and several sets of boards following controversies covered in a 2008 qnotes investigative report into one of the group’s former executive directors. The leader had been accused of mistreating interns and youth clients and engaging in several anti-LGBT statements and actions. Since that time, the organization has seemed to rebound. Late last year, it moved to a new, larger facility. It has also expanded its staff and various services and programs.
Equality North Carolina also exhibited strong fundraising skills in the six-year period reviewed by qnotes. It’s advocacy arm increased its revenue by 68 percent over 2008, with its non-profit foundation seeing an increase of 116 percent. The group, which helped lead opposition to North Carolina’s 2012 state constitutional amendment banning LGBT marriage, cites the amendment campaign as a primary driver of the increases. Revenue for the two associated organizations fell in 2012 after the amendment passed in a May 2012 primary. However, revenue rose again in 2013 and the group continues to have a strong staff presence.
Stability and challenge
Two of the five organizations reviewed over the six-year period experienced either slight increases or significant challenge.
RAIN’s revenues have seen both highs and lows over six years, though the group’s 2013 revenue still represents an 11 percent increase over its revenue in 2008. RAIN’s revenue peaked at $1,090,133 in 2009, from $786,491 the year prior. In 2010, revenue fell slightly to $958,634. The sharp increases in 2009-2010 coincide with the decline of Metrolina AIDS Project, another local AIDS service group which shut down in 2010 after cases of financial mismanagement in the organization were revealed. RAIN’s revenue declined five percent from 2011 to 2012 and just one percent from 2012 to 2013.
Nathan Smith, RAIN’s director of development and marketing, said added client services due to MAP’s closing accounted for a portion of the increases, as did the addition of medical case management to their roster of client services. The new service brought with it new Ryan White funds.
The accompanying decrease in the years following came as RAIN closed the medical case management program to create its own “more sustainable” service, Smith said. Fundraising, though, has remained stable, Smith said, adding that the group still faces some challenges.
“Like all non-profits that were hit by the 2009 recession, RAIN worked at sustaining the services we were offering our clients and community,” Smith said. “RAIN has worked tirelessly to be on a sustainable path and we are currently doing that through partnerships and strategic planning such as our recent move to the CFSC (Children and Family Services Center) last September.”
Only one local organization saw significant decreases in its revenue. The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte’s four-percent decline in 2013 is one in a string of recent declining revenue years. Center revenues peaked at $108,263 in 2011, bolstered by a sharp increase in Pride Charlotte fundraising that year, the first time the event was held in Uptown. In 2012, the center’s revenue dropped 50 percent, after Pride Charlotte activities broke even after expanding to two days in anticipation of its 2013 parade. [Ed. Note — This writer served several years on the volunteer committee of Pride Charlotte and board of Charlotte Pride.]
In all, the center’s revenue in 2013 represented a 35 percent decline over revenue in 2008. While revenue was dropping, center leaders increased their expenses by 30 percent during the same five-year period. : :
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.
Chart Notes (at top):
Unless otherwise specified, all financial data represents that which was reported on a Form 990 for fiscal calendar year 2013.
a – For fiscal year July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013
b – Charlotte Black Gay Pride is in the process of requesting reinstatement of its tax-exempt status, which was automatically revoked by the IRS in 2010 after failing to file a Form 990 for three consecutive years. Its event this year was operated under the non-profit fiscal sponsorship of the Center for Black Equity.
c – Small organizations are not required to file full Forms 990 or Forms 990-EZ. These organizations filed a Form 990-N “e-Postcard” with the IRS,
indicating their gross receipts were no greater than $50,000.
d – As reported under “Payroll” and “Rent” in a “Profit & Loss” statement attached to organization’s Form 990. The attached statement also includes $9,240 in contractor fees, $1,684 in electricity costs and $400 for security costs.
e – The organization notes that its revenue and expenses in 2013, like 2012, were unusually high, given the transition of multiple high-level staff and the organization’s transitions after the 2012 anti-LGBT constitutional amendment.
f – Equality North Carolina Foundation shares some expenses with Equality North Carolina and did not record its own occupancy or salary expenses in its Form 990.
g – The Freedom Center for Social Justice’s tax-exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS this year after failing to file a Form 990 for three consecutive years. The group had its status reinstated in October.
§ – Hearts Beat As One Foundation was founded in April 2014. It has not yet been required to file a Form 990 for its activities this year. Data presented here represents voluntarily submitted, unreviewed and preliminary figures and estimates as of the date of the newspaper’s requests and are not reflective nor predictive of any final accounting to be reported on Hearts Beat As One Foundation’s 2014 Form 990. The foundation also reports donations to charitable causes and organizations represent 81 percent of its expenses as of Nov. 29, 2014.