Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Indy Pride Posts Smaller Profit As It Struggles With Growing Pains

The 2005 Indy Pride Festival celebrated its most successfully attended event this past June at Indianapolis' University Park, with nearly 25,000 people in attendance according to park police. Not surprisingly, the organization took in a record amount of money for the event, nearly $150,000. What some may consider a little surprising is the relatively small profit of $24,000 realized by the organization. That translates to a profit of just 16 cents for every dollar raised for the event based upon a financial report prepared by Indy Pride Inc.'s treasurer, Eric M. Munsch.

According to fundraising experts, organizations like Indy Pride, should expect to spend at least 50 cents for every dollar, leaving a profit of 50%. Some organizations fair better even better, while others fair worse. Indy Pride's leadership attributes the smaller profits to a deliberate decision by the organization to spend more money in an effort to grow the event, a move that did succeed in attracting a record number of attendees. The organization believes that higher profits will be realized by the organization in future years as the event reaps financial rewards of becoming a larger event.

The financial report shows that the organization spent about one-third of its income, or nearly $48,000 on publicity for the event. More than $20,000 was spent on entertainment-related expenses, including performers, which by all accounts included the best show line-up in the event's history. Site expenses of about $12,000 and $10,000 for event program books accounted for the other largest expenses.

Income from sponsors accounted for more than half of the income realized by the event. More than $20,000 of income was derived from alcohol/beverage sales, while booth vendors kicked in another $18,000. Advertisers in the event's program guide chipped in over $15,000. Parade entries generated $9,000.

Declining profits are not the only sign of the growing pains being experienced by the organization. Interest in the organization's eleven-member board soared after this year's event. More than 20 persons were recommended by members for the nine open slots on the Board of Directors to be filled at its annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held on September 14, 2005, at Talbott Street night club at 7:00 p.m. A six-member nominating committee appointed by the Board of Directors has nominated 10 persons to fill the 9 open spots. The nominating committee, in a surprise move, dumped two existing Board members, including the organization's vice president, Mike Manning, and its treasurer, Eric Munsch.

Manning and Munsch are both long-time, active volunteers and board members. Manning was viewed by many as the heir apparent to succeed current Indy Pride president, Gary Brackett, who is term-limited. Manning has announced that he will still seek a nomination from the floor at the annual meeting and vie for re-election to the Board, notwithstanding the nominating committee's snub. In an e-mail to Indy Pride members, Manning explained that members who are not planning to attend the annual meeting can still cast their vote by proxy. Members can e-mail the organization's secretary, Jason Carmin, at skagenj@yahoo.com and express their desire to cast a proxy vote to elect an eligible member to the Board.

Manning blames nominating committee member, Ted Fleischaker, for the snub. Fleischaker is the editor of The Word, which was established in 1991 and claims to be Indiana's largest gay and lesbian newspaper. Fleischaker has generously promoted the Indy Pride event in his publication free of charge, but he and Manning have openly differed over event matters in the past. Some board members have complained that Fleischaker has in the past resorted to threats, including the withdrawal of his promotion of the event in The Word, as a means of exacting his demands from the organization.

Whatever their differences, the organization's board members and volunteers should be applauded for their past efforts in growing Indy Pride. Hopefully, their differences can be set aside after the annual meeting, and everyone can work together to continue building the event to something even bigger.

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