Charlotte Pride 2016 saw record-breaking attendance, with the organization estimating 130,000 visitors over the course of the weekend. Not only did the celebration grow, but financial support for the organization and its projects has as well. One of North Carolina’s largest LGBTQ non-profits, Charlotte Pride’s financial reports reveal the organization’s skyrocketing success — but board members say that this is only the beginning.
“My hope is that our organization is able to successfully leverage our platform, our reach and our resources to ensure that we effectively make visible the lives, contributions and experiences of our LGBTQ+ community,” said Daniel Valdez, vice president of Charlotte Pride’s board of directors. “[I hope] we can expand and fully unlock the potential of our community in all aspects, from economic mobility, civic engagement, education, healthcare, to housing and all other intersectional issues that impact us all.”
This aim is illustrated in the non-profit’s annual 990 form, posted to its website the same day it was approved by the IRS. In 2016, three of the organization’s programs grew alongside the best-known festival and parade: Trans Pride, Latin Pride and the GayCharlotte Film Festival, recently renamed “Reel Out Charlotte.”
“Charlotte Pride is essentially responsible for 100 percent of the funding of these programs,” notes Treasurer Richard Grimstad. “To the extent that we are unable to secure sponsorships or outside funding, the support for these programs comes from the programmatic reserves currently established, or reserves from Charlotte Pride’s Collaborative Programming Reserves, as well as any fundraising or event revenue generated by these program committees.”
These reserve funds amount to the majority of Charlotte Pride’s financial assets. The organization’s financial statements — posted on its site — itemize 2016 reserve and seed funds.
According to the net assets section of the statement, reserves amount to roughly $292,380. Seed funding, cash held for the early months of the year before sponsorship money begins to roll in, represents only $23,152. Compared to Charlotte Pride’s 2016 total assets worth $389,373, that means 81 percent of the organization’s total assets — and 96.2 percent of its $327,862 in cash — are on reserve.
That number makes more sense in light of the cost of the main event, the annual festival and parade. In 2016, the weekend-long celebration rated expenses totaling $372,124 and all programs — Charlotte Pride festival, parade, the film festival and both Trans and Latin Prides — generated only $268,278 in revenue. Corporate sponsorship and donations keep the organization stable and growing.
“Our corporate sponsors are our biggest donors,” Grimstad said, although the amounts each contributed are not published. “We do not currently actively solicit contributions from individual donors through any type of campaign, thus we do not publicize any individual donors.”
Without donation solicitations, the organization relies on the event itself to generate funds for its programming. Though revenues — from beverage sales, for example — do not suffice to fund all of Charlotte Pride’s projects, the event is on a grand enough scale to attract a lot of corporate support.
“The annual festival and parade is essentially our largest, basically the only, fundraising event of the year for our organization,” said Grimstad. “[It] supports all of our other programming, including the film festival, Latin Pride, Trans Pride, etc.”
These programs do have their own funds, which are used at the discretion of program committees. At the end of 2016, Latin Pride had $4,387 in the bank, but Trans Pride had only $189 in funds saved. Why?
“The Latin Pride Committee has conducted additional fundraising efforts to continue their work on an ongoing basis,” Grimstad explained. “Additional funds were allocated to Trans Pride (given that 2016 was the second year for the program and no grants were received)…Trans Pride has opted to allocate its funds to various projects and programs at this time but has not conducted any other event or fundraising activities.”
These projects are barely a blip on the screen of the umbrella organization’s financial assets and expenses. Besides the festival and parade, Charlotte Pride’s second-greatest expense is professional services: $18,060. The money goes to consultants, payroll processing fees and other services. However, Grimstad notes, these expenses aren’t all paid in cash.
“A material portion of such fees were in-kind and were donated to the organization,” Grimstad said. “[They] do not necessarily reflect actual cash outlays or amounts that have been reported on an income tax basis.”
Grimstad and other board members have a long history with the organization. Valdez has served as vice president for one year. Beginning in 2012, Grimstad was formerly a co-chair of development along with current-President Craig Hopkins. Now, Grimstad has been treasurer and Hopkins president for two years. Kacey Grantham has been secretary for the past year. In 2017, three board members are stepping down: Gwen Pearson, Jeff Sampson and Marc Alexander. In their places, two new members have stepped up, Maurice Hemphill and Lee Robertson.
Charlotte Pride will only have nine board members in 2017 as opposed to 2016’s 10, but Valdez said the organization does not consider the last seat a vacancy and is not seeking another member. Along with the executive committee, Nan Bangs and Abdul Green are continuing their positions on the board, as well as Matt Comer. Comer, a former editor of qnotes, has been involved with Charlotte Pride since 2008 in various roles.
Though some programs are relatively young, Charlotte Pride’s newborn scholarship initiative represents its latest attempt to use the organization’s financial influence in order to affect change in the local LGBTQ community.
“We just launched our scholarship initiative and are very excited about being able to support our local LGBTQ+ students that are in college,” Valdez said. “We are also looking at innovative ways to give back our community and to partner with our community organizations in meaningful ways.”
Other community organizations do benefit from the success of Charlotte Pride, though there are limits to Pride’s ability to provide actual funding. Grimstad specified that the organization was never intended to be a fund distributor, but it is able to allocate money for purposes consistent with Charlotte Pride’s mission and programs.
“We set aside an amount annually to work with other local LGBTQ organizations to develop programming for the local community,” he said. “We have provided programmatic funding to Time Out Youth and Flourish, and a handful of other community organizations or initiatives on a regular/annual basis that have aligned with our mission and current programming.”
Though Pride has provided some support to the larger LGBTQ community, the board strives to do more. The past two years have seen public town halls and focus group sessions targeting key stakeholders in the community.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Valdez said, adding, “we have been very intentional about reaching out to our community, our partners and our sponsors through our strategic planning process to ensure that we are responsive to our stakeholders and their needs and concerns.”
Although Charlotte Pride has grown steadily throughout its history, board members say they are still striving to maintain the organization’s upward momentum. The city itself, Valdez emphasized, is to thank for a large part of Pride’s success.
“I feel like we haven’t come close to all that’s possible,” Valdez said. “I look forward to rising up to the challenge with the support of my amazing Charlotte community to make our city and our region a more welcoming and prosperous place for all.”