Pride Is Still $61K in Debt. But Wait -- This Is Good News!

Brendan Behan on Bridge.jpg
Jean-Philippe Dobrin
Brendan Behan says Pride has knocked nearly $200 grand off its debt in the past year and change
In the eponymous movie, the Blues Brothers played a hell of a set at Bob's Country Bunker. The audience certainly enjoyed itself. But, in the end, the band lost money on the gig.

In recent years, the same went for Pride. Roughly 1 million revelers packed the streets  and enjoyed the hell out of themselves (unlike the crowd at Bob's Country Bunker, locals tend to recycle bottles rather than tossing them at the entertainment). Yet despite all the fun, mismanagement by the organization's executives and alarmingly hands-off behavior by its board led to a massive deficit.

Brendan Behan was named acting executive director a year ago and made the title permanent in January. He confirms that Pride is still saddled with $61,045 in year 2010 debt as of yesterday. But here's the good news -- Pride was a full quarter of a million dollars in the hole at the start of 2011. Depending on how things go this weekend, Pride may be able to whittle away a bit more.

Behan is optimistic that, when all the beans are counted and all the checks to local nonprofits are cut, Pride will make money on this weekend's festival. If everything adheres to plan, he says, "We are anticipating $17,000 in surplus based on our budget. If we come in on budget. Things can shift and change. We all have to wait and see how everything settles."

Pride received a loan from the Dorian Fund during the recent period Behan calls "the crisis" and was also bolstered by a festival last year he claims was the most profitable on record. The organization is also keeping costs low by maintaining only three full-time staff. Much of "the crisis" in 2010 was spurred by pumping $200,000 into additional staffers right when money dried up.

In addition to a steady executive at the helm, Behan said Pride's board is working to adopt the suggestions of a December 2010 controller's office audit. That report noted that while most nonprofit boards fund-raise or keep an eye on the organization's finances, Pride's, disastrously, did neither. This appears to be changing.

Pride float.jpg
Calibree Photography
All smiles...

A Pride fundraiser this year made a modest profit, and the board is beginning the necessary, if tedious, job of watchdogging the bottom line. Among other endeavors, Pride's board and staff now undertake quarterly budget reviews. This is a marked contrast to past boards, which actually ratified an unbalanced budget that would have put the organization $345,500 in debt -- before reconvening to pass a balanced budget Pride didn't adhere to, ending up even deeper in debt.

In addition to regularly overseeing how closely Pride is sticking to its budget, the organization has also been meeting with Supervisor Scott Wiener, Behan says. Wiener, along with Supervisor David Campos, last year openly called for another organization to run the Pride festival in the wake of the organization's fiscal mismanagement. Those calls have died down for the moment.

This weekend figures to be one of the biggest parties of the year for San Francisco. Whether the party's organizers are partying in its wake is yet to be determined.

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