Landon Brownfield, secretary for the board of directors for Pride St. Louis, says the organization entered the year with several years of debt, owing more than $160,000. But in addition to the usual event revenue, including sponsorships, the organization was able to raise $40,410 through direct donations, about four times the amount raised last year.
Thanks in part to that influx of money, Brownfield says, "obligations for previous years and this year have been met.”
Earlier this year, Pride St. Louis announced that it would be charging a $5 admission fee
— but backed off in the face of public criticism. After nixing the fee, the organization encouraged those who had the means to donate upon admittance.
“Sponsorship is our biggest source of income for the festival, but sponsorship can only go so far. We depend on the community to support us as well,” Brownfield says. “Donations like those at the entry gates this year really do help us. We did see many people who said, ‘Well, I would've given $5 as an entry fee, but I’ll give you more because it’s a suggested donation now – I’ll cover someone who isn't able to pay.’”
The funds raised by the organization help pay for PrideCenter (a new community center that opened in January
), scholarships, educational programs, outreach, and the festival. Last year, Pride St. Louis gave eighteen scholarships, totaling $21,000, to LGBT community members and their families pursuing higher education.
In addition, the organization hosts many educational events, including Teachable Tuesdays, a bi-weekly program to learn anything from financial literacy, to reproductive assistance, to Trans 101. Though the organization now has the means to support these initiatives, Brownfield stresses the value of keeping them up and running throughout the year.
“Pride St. Louis will continue to ask for donations so that our programs such as the community center, educational outreach, and programs can continue in earnest,” Brownfield says. “While all our bills have been paid and we are debt-free, we need to remain active in fundraising for our programs to continue year-round. The leadership of Pride St. Louis is cautiously optimistic about our financial future, but acknowledge that fundraising must continue.”
In addition to donations, the organization is looking for volunteers, particularly those who can take shifts at PrideCenter, the new LGBT community center which opened this January. With support, the organization hopes to reach more and more LGBT members in the area.
“Our goal is to have the organization keep expanding so we can offer different services, and continue to grow and serve our community,” Brownfield says. “We need help to do that both with funding and volunteers, but thats the way the organization wants to move.”
To donate visit donate.pridestl.org
, and to learn more about volunteering visit volunteer.pridestl.org
For Pride St. Louis, this year's PrideFest was a winner in more ways than one. Not only did the organization attract a record number of attendees — but it managed to wipe out its debt.