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|MEGA Family Project faces dire financial straits|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|August 03, 2011 12:38|
MEGA Family Project, the seven-year old nonprofit organization that caters to LGBT families and prospective parents, is in financial trouble. Kathy Kelly, the organization’s executive director, sent an email to supporters July 29 announcing the need to scale back services and work toward creating a leaner and more sustainable organization.
“We’re very low on funds and our expenses exceed what we’re bringing in,” Kelly said in an interview Aug. 2. “We’re struggling but at the same time we’ve been trying to regroup to make the organization smaller and leaner. We’re basically starting over. ”
The message emailed to MEGA supporters said the group “does not have enough money to meet its expenses.”
MEGA Family is not going to shut down, Kelly said in the interview, but in order to survive, leaders must reevaluate the programs and services it offers to better cater to needs of the community.
Kelly has led MEGA Family since the organization’s founding in 2004 in the wake of the battle over Georgia’s state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
MEGA Family hosts a variety of events each month that range from legal advice for LGBT couples and families, to playdates for kids with LGBT parents, to discussion groups for LGBT people looking to expand their families. It also offers one of Atlanta’s only free monthly coming out support groups for adults.
Kelly said that MEGA Family’s services might not be glamorous but are vital to the community. MEGA Family has provided services to more than 4,000 people during its history, but despite the large pool of supporters, only a small percentage contribute financially to the organization each year.
The organization’s annual budget is around $60,000, according to Kelly. As executive director, and the only paid staffer, Kelly earns $27,000.
MEGA Family’s income is provided by individual donors, corporate sponsorship and grants from other organizations.
“It’s often difficult to get people to give to causes like ours. What I see happening in the community is people are happy to give to a cause that has a great party associated with it or great marketing. For those of us in the trenches, it’s harder for us to raise money. It’s not as glamorous,” Kelly said.
The economy is also partially to blame for MEGA Family’s financial woes, she said.
Kelly declined to comment on how much money was needed immediately, although the email noted the MEGA Family needs to “get current on our bills.”
The bottom line is that to continue offering services, MEGA Family needs to raise money in the short term, find more members to contribute monthly or yearly dues and find ways to trim its budget, according to Kelly.
Plans to restructure the organization have not yet been finalized. Kelley says that she is still seeking input from members and supporters on where to lead the organization moving forward. MEGA Family has hosted focus groups to help gauge the needs of its members and determine its future. Kelly added that events in the future could be reserved to dues-paying members only.
Several discussion groups offered by MEGA Family, like the monthly “Maybe Baby” series for prospective parents, are generally successful. Others, like legal seminars, are not as well-attended, though they still provide a valuable resource to those who need it, Kelly said.
Some programs may be eliminated altogether or trimmed back to occur less frequently.
“We have to take a harder look at the programs that we do that don’t bring any revenue,” she said.
Top photo: MEGA Family Project Executive Director Kathy Kelly (courtesy photo)
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