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Milwaukee LGBT Center reports loss, lagging donations

The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center incurred a loss of $77,522 in 2010, according to an annual report mailed to its members in September.

The center, which moved last year to a downtown location at 252 E. Highland Ave., provides several health and social service programs, including an LGBT youth program, an anti-violence program, a breast health program and HIV prevention services.

The center’s total revenue in 2010 was $841,143, while expenses amounted to $917,808. Revenue came primarily from government and foundation grants, which amounted to 65 percent of the center’s total income. Grant revenue was down about $100,000 from 2009.

Seventeen percent of the center’s 2010 budget came from contracted services, and another 5 percent from renting out space to other groups. 

Financial reports filed with the government indicated that less than 3 percent of the center’s income came from private contributors in 2010. By comparison, Chicago’s Center on Halsted receives about a quarter of its income from individual donors.

The two largest individual donors to the Milwaukee center were its executive director Maggi Cage and development director Patrick Price, who also serves as the organization’s chief financial officer and compliance manager. They were listed on the annual report in the category of $5,000 to $9,999 donors.

Although the center’s annual report states, “This donor recognition list does not include in-kind donations made in 2010,” the report also lists a category of revenue labeled “in-kind revenue.”

Government filings indicate that Cage’s and Price’s donations were in the form of in-kind donations, presumably of time. On papers filed with the government, both claimed to have worked an average of 60 hours per week during 2010. 

No one associated with the center, including Cage, responded to requests to be interviewed for this story.

Despite the center’s losses, Chuck McLean, vice president of research for GuideStar, a national non-profit information service, said the group’s financial filings in recent years “look really healthy,” especially in the current economic climate. 

“It looks like a healthy organization,” McLean said. “The revenue bounces up and down but that’s not unusual in this economy and for organizations that depend largely on grants. It’s really not unusual to see those kinds of swings.”

In addition to moving last year into a larger, 22,000-square-foot space, the center also changed the way its board of directors is chosen. Previously, members selected the board, but at Cage’s urging, the organization switched to a self-selecting board in November 2010.

Critics said the change would silence members and isolate the center’s governance from community input. But Cage said the change was needed because the agency’s growth necessitated a more professional board.

In the 11 months since the change, however, the board has not grown. It currently has only seven members – two fewer than are required by its own bylaws.

Cage also said at the time of the change that she needed a board whose members could meet fundraising goals and who had expertise in business and management oversight. Fundraising for 2010 netted only about $20,000. 

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