National Equality March leaders have discovered they have money left over after paying all the bills. Organizers raised approximately $260,000 to put on the event in Washington DC that drew 200,000 activists.
March leaders budgeted $282,000 for the event - including all March, administrative, and contingency costs. Treasurer Chip Arndt renegotiated several contracts and brought the total price down to $156,000. By reducing costs to less than $1 per attendee, Equality Across America is able to save approximately $90,000 to use for future endeavors according to Jones.
Some online donations and merchandise sales have not been included in the total since those numbers aren't yet available. The group is still accepting donations on their website.
The organization plans to release a full accounting soon. Requests to see the official reckoning were declined until the organization puts out a press release about the finances.
Since EAA is a project of the Tides Center, organizers are not free to use the funds without approval from the fiscal sponsor and could not have donated the money to any of the recent political campaigns.
Where Does the Money Go?
EAA's lack of bylaws, mission statement and budget has been a source of concern for many in the community, but since the group is a project of Tides Center, they operate under the fiscal sponsor's umbrella and Tides provides most of their administrative services and monitors all expenses.
In an e-mailed statement, former Equality March co-director Kip Williams explained, "Equality Across America is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Center. Legally, the Tides Center has a Board of Directors, but Equality Across America does not. EAA does have an Advisory Board on record with Tides, of which Cleve Jones is currently the only member.
Money left over from the Equality March, however, does not go to Jones. Since the Tides Center is the fiscal sponsor, all money goes directly to it and they hold it on behalf of the organization. Expenses are verified by the center and must be directly related to the project's stated goals.
"The [National Equality March] Executive Committee is a totally unofficial body with no official power...or responsibility/accountability," Williams said. "One of the next steps for EAA will be to develop an official Advisory Board. In the meantime, Cleve is solely responsible."
The new EAA advisory board would replace Jones as the officials responsible to Tides Center. Tanner Efinger was recently elected interim Project Director by the National Equality March executive committee to handle the transition from grassroots organizers to established organization after Williams resigned.
The Future of Equality Across America
According to Jones, organizers will be deciding soon whether or not to form an actual organization. If no organization emerges, the money would go to Tides Center.
"We're still not sure this is a viable organization," Jones said. "It's still not clear to me that EAA is going to happen yet. There needs to be a working group to take EAA forward. I'll be inviting [the March's] steering committee and executive committee members to participate."
Equality Across America does not have the $100,000 on hand. Some donors made pledges, but not all the obligations have been paid yet.
Arndt's role as treasurer ended on October 31 when the Equality March executive committee disbanded. He has not indicated that he will be continuing his role with Equality Across America.
After Williams and co-director Robin McGehee resigned last week, several executive and steering committee members have said they would not be continuing with the organization. Some of the organizers have planned a conference call this weekend to discuss the future of the group.
Full Disclosure: I was a member of the National Equality March Executive Committee. I voted in favor of appointing Tanner Efinger to the interim Project Director volunteer position.