Making It Work

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LGBT organizations discuss future with help of local Chamber of Commerce

By Andrew Rice

"Why isn't this working for us? How'd you do that?" were a couple of the questions posed by the nearly two dozen board members of different nonprofit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups as they sat down to discuss the future of the nonprofit LGBT movement at large. The event, held Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Standard Hotel in the West Village, marked the inaugural meeting of the local chapter of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce's (NGLCCNY) Non-Profit Industry Council.

Representatives from differing organizations sought to meet up in the first-ever think tank. Through events, workshops and outreach, the NGLCCNY provides business development opportunities, financial access and educational resources to LGBT and allied businesses in the New York metro area.

Jennifer Brown, who owns her own consulting firm, facilitated the event at which participants highlighted the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of groups in specific categories such as the arts, culture, health care and business development.

"Just because we're not for profit doesn't mean we're not trying make money and get things done. We have to be nimble and able to pivot as the market changes so we don't get left behind," she said.

One of the largest issues of the day was the overlap of various organizations. While each has a particular focus, they compete for the same valuable ad space, funding and grants.

Zachary Barnett, founder and director of the Abzyme Research Foundation, recalled a time when four different organizations had four concurrent campaigns warning of the dangers of crystal meth use in the gay community. "A big part of the problem was that there were all these different groups and no one was talking to each other. There was a lot of mistrust and a lot of overlap between everyone," he said.

For many of those present, the event offered a welcome chance to sit together amicably and discuss possible collaborations that will help their organizations better serve the community with their limited resources. Steed Taylor of Visual AIDS was one of the many present who believe that the LGBT movement should work toward common aims.

Equally important to those present was the face of the LGBT movement, which many stereotype as white gay males.

"It's not very accurate and it handicaps us because people don't see their reflection, especially among minority populations," said Carlene Jadusingh, who heads her own law firm in Lower Manhattan. She feels that the lack of diversity isn't reflective of the community at large and that through social media and reaching out to younger people, eventually everyone will be able to see their own face when looking at LGBT material.

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