Wayne Besen for a number of years served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, and since 2006 he's been executive director of the Truth Wins Out org and web site, full of blog entries, press releases, vids and opinion columns.
TWO, according to its IRS 990 filings, is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting positive public opinion regarding the treatment of gay people. I worked with him for a short while last spring on the boycott of Jamaica tourism and beer.
And when I recently checked out the latest IRS 990 for HRC, I also read the three most recent 990s for TWO, and was shocked to see its latest budget was a healthy six-figures. Here is what I learned from the tax filings.
In 2006 TWO's revenue was $74,403, and Besen earned $12,000. For 2007 the revenue was $76,961, and his salary was $32,500. Then in 2008 revenue went up to $190,759, while Besen's compensation was a robust $66,000.
While I'm not sure TWO's agenda requires $190,759, or that it's accomplishing much for the larger gay community, my opinion is of no import to those who fund Besen's work and org.
The 990s don't require any nonprofit to divulge who donated to them, but since I was familiar with the list of grantees from the Haas Jr Foundation, where former NGLTF honcho Matt Foreman is the program director for human rights, and the Arcus Foundation, where another former NGLTF leader, Urvashi Vaid, is the executive director, I knew that TWO gets significant funds from those foundations.
At the Arcus site, TWO is shown to have received $60,000 in 2008 and $40,000 in 2007. The Haas Jr site lists a grant of $35,000 in 2009 to the org.
I'm presenting this info simply to bring some transparency to TWO, which is receiving some nice chunks of change from gay friendly foundations. Also, seeing the interconnectedness of the key players here, formerly from NGLTF and HRC, to my eyes looks like more of Gay Inc folks taking care of each other, quite nicely too.
Do we really need TWO and all the other similar orgs, raking in robust six-figure budget, without a whole lotta achievements to show the community?