A Minute With Jose Lugaro, Development Director, The LGBT Community Center
FundRaising Success: What is the mission of the organization?
Jose Lugaro: Established in 1983, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center is at the heart of the LGBT community in New York City, providing quality health and wellness programs in a welcoming space that fosters connections and celebrates our cultural contributions. We strive to serve the LGBT community with a full-service, multifaceted approach to programming, from hosting arts and entertainment events, advocacy groups and family gatherings to offering youth, recovery and overall wellness programs. Each year, the center welcomes more than 300,000 visits to our building in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan from people who engage in our life-changing and life-saving activities.
FS: What is the annual operating budget?
JL: Approximately $7.5 million.
FS: How does the center fund its mission?
JL: We generate funding from government grants, private foundations and corporate partnerships, as well as from individuals at all levels through special events, direct marketing and direct solicitation.
FS: What are the center's fundraising strengths/weaknesses?
JL: The center has a very engaged board of directors that works in partnership with the staff to create, implement and achieve our annual fundraising goals. Like many organizations, we are facing challenges from cutbacks in government funding and increasingly rely on individual donors to fund the programs and services that meet the needs of New York's LGBT community.
FS: How do you engage constituents in ways other than purely fundraising efforts?
JL: The best tool in our fundraising arsenal is the building we own at 208 W. 13th St. It is truly a living history for the LGBT community. All donors have an open invitation to visit their community center, which is home to the myriad programs and services offered to thousands of people every year. In addition to the general events that we have, there are briefings and functions specifically designed for donors at all levels.
FS: Can you share a recent fundraising success?
JL: Earlier this year, the center received a generous grant in the amount of $690,000 to continue and expand our transformational Foster Care Project (FCP) over the next three years. The FCP works to address the serious challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in New York City face in being placed with affirming foster care homes. While not a first-time grant, it had been several years since we received funding from this particular source. The lesson to be learned through this success is the importance of maintaining relationships and keeping funders informed as much as possible. Other organization initiatives had not been appealing, but this one clearly was. Continuous engagement was key.
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks?
JL: Engaging the corporate community is critical to the future of our development efforts. We are actively working to move those relationships beyond just event sponsorship and into more substantive relationships, working with employee resource groups and integrating resources both human and capital into the center at large. The center, like many not-for-profit organizations, is behind in efficiently using technology to expand our base of individual donors. We are thrilled to be investing in new technology and a more sophisticated digital strategy in the coming year.
FS: What is your fundraising philosophy?
JL: Every dollar we raise has a direct impact on the community we serve. The more people we engage, the better our fundraising efforts and the stronger our community.
FS: Any advice for other organizations?
JL: Create a culture of fundraising throughout your organization. Everyone has a role to play in development efforts.