Gay Buying Power: A Force To Be Reckoned With

Consider that with the political climate still being somewhat less than accepting today, the number of “out” LGBT persons is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Now consider this: In 2006, an estimated 15.3 million Lesbian and Gay consumers had a combined buying power of over 600 Billion Dollars

According to source Harris/Witeck-Combs, 72% of LGBT consumers prefer to buy from companies that advertise to them directly; 

89% are highly likely to seek out brands advertised to them, and a majority will pay a premium for quality products and services (source: Simmons). 

The median combined household income of gay couples is 60% higher than opposite-sex couples (source: OpusComm Group);

Compared to the national average, gay people are three times more likely to choose to live in racially, ethically and culturally diverse communities (source: Gertler and Vinodrai);

Creative and innovative people driving the tech economy seek places high in cultural, racial and ethnic diversity, including gays and lesbians (source: Gary Gates and Brookings Institute).

Reference article: http://www.expressmilwaukee.com/article-2374-the-gay-and-lesbian-market.html

Here are some additional facts from the Outlook Media 2007 Media Kit. (Outlook Weekly is “a lifestyle and advocacy publication for the Ohio queer community.” )

“Gay Americans are twice as likely to have graduated from college, twice as likely to have an individual income over $60,000 and twice as likely to have a household income of $250,000 or more!”

“According to Harris Interactive Research, gay purchasing power is expected to top $690 Billion Dollars in 2007!”

That’s a lot of purchasing power, not to mention, a lot of potential influence. Today, more than ever, LGBT people need to look at how to wield our “buying power.”  How, where, when and why we focus our dollars needs to be about more than choosing a car, vacation, or beer…

There are gay philanthropists making the news this election year for their work in helping to support candidates and issues that are lgbt-friendly. We need more of this on a local and national level. 

I found an excellent article on Bettys’List – LGBT News and Services titled, “The Rising Tide: Philanthropy & Volunteerism in the LGBT Community” 

Ref= http://www.bettyslist.com/rising-tide.php?a=1569  -MsQueer

©2008 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.

Philanthropy and Political Advocacy

By Jeff Lewy

Philanthropy, as we’ve noted in earlier articles, is a way to support and promote social change.  That change is lasting when it transforms the attitudes of individuals, one at a time, until society as a whole is transformed.

However, philanthropy by itself cannot ensure the implementation of social change.  We need to promote political change as well, so that the attitudes and ideas of the public are implemented widely and promptly.

As someone with philanthropic and charitable feelings, you are probably thinking: “It’s common knowledge that philanthropy is tax-deductible – and that political action isn’t.  So I can’t do anything about politics, because the IRS won’t let me, since political contributions aren’t tax-deductible.”  However, that “common” knowledge has two serious flaws.  

The first flaw is failing to fully participate in the political process, beyond voting.  And you ARE voting, aren’t you?   Remember – political giving is a vital element in electing political candidates who are in tune with current social attitudes and will support the changes you desire. Even though giving to candidates isn’t tax-deductible, it is an important way to see that the changes you value come to pass.  So give to the political candidates and organizations of your choice.  It can be money wisely spent to create and promote social change.

The second flaw is a common misunderstanding about what nonprofit organizations are allowed to do.  It is true that these organizations may not directly support or contribute to political candidates.  But they can engage in political advocacy to promote the social changes they espouse.

What does political advocacy mean?  Plenty!  A short list of activities in political advocacy includes:

  • Lobbying to influence legislation
  • Lobbying to influence decisions by administrative agencies
  • Litigation
  • Research and study
  • Nonpartisan analysis
  • Legislative comment (without a specific call to action)
  • Polling
  • Public education

These activities cover a lot of ground.  Many nonprofits work hard and successfully in all these areas, within the rules and limitations that govern their activities.  These organizations understand their limitations and will be glad to explain what you and they can (and can’t) do to help in the important work of political advocacy.  

In recent years, attitudes held by individuals throughout the country have become more favorable to LGBT people and our rights.  A majority now believes that LGBT couples should have many of the same rights as married couples, even if they don’t want to call it “marriage.”  A majority sees the benefits to society of allowing adoption and foster parenting by LGBT couples, preventing employment and housing discrimination, and ensuring hospital visitation, end-of-life decisions and inheritance by LGBT partners.

However, even if individual attitudes are changed, public institutions must change as well, if those new attitudes are to truly prevail.  Many public institutions are governments, so political activity is required to bring needed changes to reality.  Public acceptance must be translated into laws and administrative procedures before it becomes fully integrated and effective.

In these times when politicians on the right use the LGBT community as a wedge issue to distract voters from the important issues presented at the ballot box, we need to respond strongly to protect ourselves and to educate others not to impose restrictions on us that fly in the face of this country’s long and sometimes halting progress toward justice and equality.

In this sense, “politics” includes all branches of government – executive, legislative, and judicial, and all levels of government, from national to local.

Progress has occurred in many ways.  LGBT rights have made significant strides in the judicial arena; just think of the effect of Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy and affirmed our rights of privacy and sexual activity.  And the courts in Massachusetts have affirmed same-sex marriage in that state.

But there are many situations where public acceptance is thwarted by public officials – here in California, San Francisco’s action to affirm same-sex marriage was overturned by the state courts (although that battle isn’t over).  In 2005, the California Legislature passed a bill to make same-sex marriage legal in California – but the Governor vetoed the bill.

We can all think of many examples where the public’s acceptance of social change is not implemented.

So get involved, with your money and your volunteer time.  Consider donating to politicians, political organizations AND to nonprofit organizations that are doing the work for our rights.  And vote, every chance you get – in every local, primary, and general election!

2006 is an election year.  Elections make a huge difference in creating and implementing social change.  Get involved – as a citizen, and as a philanthropist.  Your future depends on it.

-MsQueer

©2008 MsQueer.com and Deborah Adler. All rights reserved.

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7 Responses

  1. I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.

  2. […] Gay Buying Power: A Force To Be Reckoned With […]

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