This has always meant that the core of Pride is the community that gathers, celebrates, and protests together. But as our community at the Pride March and Festival grows to record-breaking numbers each year, this now also means that we need the community’s financial support to keep Pride going.
As our numbers grow, so does the cost to hold an event that is meaningful, fun, and secure for everyone. This year, our total projected budget was well over Php1,000,000. Even after negotiations with suppliers and with some of the costs offset by our host city, the bare minimum needed to hold the event for an estimated 10,000 attendees and 600 volunteers was Php 962, 843.00. Out of this budget, the money we needed to pay upfront was Php 530, 110. This is where the Pride Fund goal came from.
WHAT DOES IT PAY FOR?
When we came up with this amount, it covered the essentials (stage, food and care for volunteers, lights, sounds, honorarium for talents, supplies for our media and control booth, and so much more), with some wiggle room for a few nice-to-haves (our social media promotion and a video campaign, for example).
As the crowdfunding campaign went on, there was less and less room for our wishlist items. Our initial target of feeding and caring for 300 volunteers was doubled to accommodate an increase in security, emergency, and sanitation volunteers. Several times along the way, we also had to switch suppliers–resulting in line budgets higher than we anticipated.
We kept the cute little chart as it is, but the budgets for things like equipment ballooned. It got to a point where even if we did away with the nice-to-haves, our total budget remained the same because of the increase in the essential budget lines.
Pride has always been free to attend. As an event created for and by the community, it’s important for us that it stays this way. Our small team of volunteer organizers work hard at this because we believe that this safe space needs to be accessible to everyone. But just because Pride is free to attend, doesn’t mean that it costs less to organize it.
Last year, we didn’t meet our crowdfunding goal. But we did what we could so Pride could push through. This involved taking out small loans, negotiating delayed payments, giving several of our own paychecks straight to suppliers, and incurring high credit card bills for our volunteer organizers. Needless to say, these financial burdens came at a high personal cost for us.
WAIT, DIDN’T YOU HAVE SPONSORS LAST YEAR?
We did! We’re grateful for the help that was given by our corporate sponsors. All of these sponsors were LGBTQIA+ organizations within companies. However, only three of these were monetary sponsors and all of them had to follow company protocols that allowed delivery of checks only after the event. This meant that we were on our own for all costs that needed to be settled prior to the event. This is why the Pride Fund is ALWAYS instrumental to Pride’s success.
OKAY, SO WHY NOT JUST GET MORE SPONSORS?
Last year’s financial repercussions were traumatizing. We didn’t want to have a repeat of that, so getting more sponsors is something we have definitely attempted to do this year. As of today, we have about 20 confirmed sponsors, a handful of which are monetary sponsors. Definitely far more than what we were expecting to get, but we’re grateful all the same.
Anxious not to repeat last year’s financial outcomes, we worked hard to make sure we had a safety net for our team. With so many confirmed sponsors, we’re still working hard to make sure that we balance sponsor inclusions with the need to keep this space as community-focused as possible. This is definitely a difficult task, but we’re determined to achieve it.
At the very least, this is a teaching moment for us that will be especially important for next year’s Pride March and Festival. As we grow as an organization that is more mindful of our role in intersectional activism, we definitely will work more on our fundraising policies.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH FUNDS RAISED BEYOND YOUR GOAL?
We have always wished for Metro Manila Pride to finally be a sustainable organization (this would be a dream come true). This means not having to worry each year about the costs of mounting a huge event, and also helping relieve the financial strain involved to augment any needed costs.
While the annual Pride March is the biggest event of Metro Manila Pride, our work also includes holding other small events all over the metro to fulfill our goal of creating more enriching, inclusive, diverse, and empowering safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ persons in Metro Manila. Raising funds beyond our goals will help us make our existing projects more regular and get some of our shelved projects off the ground. Of course–as we build better systems as an organization, transparency remains of utmost importance to us. Rest assured that detailed reports on our projects will be made public as we go along, because we believe that this is your Pride, and we want you to know how resources are utilized.
As we continue to learn both as activists and organizers, our commitment is that Pride remains true to its core of creating a safe, enriching space for the LGBTQIA+ community–opening more avenues to learn and converse, as we push forward not just in our fight for equal rights, but for all human rights.
Loreen Ordoño (Treasurer of Metro Manila Pride) and Nim Gonzales (Co-Head of Partnerships and Resource Mobilizations) are volunteer leaders for Metro Manila Pride, a volunteer-managed, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization whose aim is to create safe space for LGBTQIA+ persons in Metro Manila. MMPride also plans and produces the annual, community driven Metro Manila Pride Campaigns and the second longest-running Pride March in Asia. For more information about this year’s Pride March and Festival, click here.