New Democracy Maps

LGBT Community Centers Serve Over 1.7 Million People Annually

In Economic Downturn, One in Five Centers Is Volunteer-Run

Denver, CO & Wilton Manors, FL; June 5, 2012 — Despite the slow economic recovery, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community centers manage to provide vital resources to 1.7 million people annually according to a comprehensive report released today by CenterLink and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP).

The 2012 LGBT Community Center Survey Report: Assessing the Capacity and Programs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers surveyed 79 LGBT community centers nationwide. Centers showed good revenue growth over the past two years, resulting in combined 2011 revenue of $106.8 million. However, centers remain thinly staffed, with almost one in five relying on no paid staff at all.


  • LGBT community center clientele is diverse and often not specifically served by community centers that serve larger local populations: 86% of LGBT community centers offer specific programming for transgender people, 86% for LGBT youth, 73% for LGBT older adults and 62% LGBT people of color.
  • LGBT community center patrons are racially and ethnically diverse, with 40% of centers reporting that more than half of their patrons identify as people of color.

“In many regions, community centers are the only resource where LGBT community members can access not only indispensable services but also break isolation and build a network of support,” said Terry Stone, Executive Director of CenterLink. “This report surfaces how centers serve the most vulnerable members of our communities, especially LGBT youth, and enrich the lives of LGBT people in multifaceted ways.”


In many regions, local LGBT centers are the only organizations serving the LGBT community, offering a variety of much-needed resources including:

  • Physical and Mental Health Programs: Large centers spent approximately one-quarter of their 2011 budgets on physical and mental health programs, including general health and wellness programs, health and mental health care referrals, STI and HIV/AIDS-related programming, and facilitated support groups.
  • Information and Education Programs: Centers provide patrons with a variety of informational and educational resources, and 71% have in-house libraries. In response to the economic downturn, one-quarter of centers offer directories of local jobs and employment counseling or job training.
  • Legal Services and Programs: While two-thirds of centers provide LGBT-friendly legal referrals, only 20% provide direct legal assistance such as legal document preparation.
  • Social and Recreational Programs: LGBT community centers provide patrons with opportunities to socialize and connect with other LGBT people.
  • Community Outreach and Civic Engagement: LGBT community centers provide referrals to LGBT-friendly local resources such as schools and healthcare providers. Half of centers (51%) also engage directly in policy work, including public education efforts and partnerships with local LGBT and allied organizations to advance safe schools and anti-bullying policies, transgender-inclusive protections and HIV/AIDS work. One-third of centers help register voters and conduct get-out-the-vote drives.
  • Computer Centers: Many LGBT community centers (88%) provide patrons with computer resources; 97% of large centers offer patrons access to computers compared to 72% of small centers. Large centers are defined as those with 2012 expense budgets of $150,000 or greater, while small centers are centers with expense budgets less than $150,000.


Many LGBT centers rely on a small number of staff to provide these services. Of the 61 centers that provided information about staff, 18% have no staff and rely entirely on volunteers, and 41% have five or fewer paid staff. Small centers face particular staffing challenges; 46% have no paid staff, and the remaining 54% have between one and five staff.

Both large and small LGBT centers reported revenues increases from 2010 to 2011; small centers experienced a 20% increase in revenues from 2010 to 2011, compared to a 13% increase for large centers. Forty-six percent of 2011 revenues were from government grants, followed by 18% from individual donors and 10% from fundraising events.

“From health education and policy advocacy to employment counseling and legal services, community centers provide lifelines to many underserved LGBT communities,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP. “We’re encouraged to see growing financial support at so many centers, and hope to see even greater investment in the vital role these centers play in the lives of LGBT people across the country.”

The full report is available online or

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About the Authors
CenterLink was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. A fundamental goal of CenterLink’s work is to help build the capacity of these centers to address the social, cultural, health and political advocacy needs of LGBT community members across the country. For over a decade, CenterLink has played an important role in addressing the challenges centers face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity, access public resources and engage their regional communities in the grassroots social justice movement.

MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.

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