Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

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Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $5,401,462
Expenses: $3,961,408
Assets: $6,689,656

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GLAAD (formerly an acronym for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) is a left-of-center media monitoring group which promotes the favorable representation of LGBT figures in media. The group aims to “shape the narrative” on LGBT issues in entertainment and in the news. GLAAD often pressures media creators and artists to “increase the quantity” of “diverse LGBT characters” in their works. The group primarily operates in the United States, but runs international initiatives as well. 1


GLAAD was founded in 1985, when a small group of writers and reporters organized to protest the allegedly defamatory coverage of the AIDS crisis by the New York Post. After the initial protest, GLAAD began targeting other media outlets. In 1987, the GLAAD successfully pressured the New York Times to change its editorial policy to start using the term “gay” instead of “homosexual” in reference to gay people. In 1988, GLAAD activists on the West Coast began protesting purported discrimination in entertainment as well as in news media. GLAAD coordinated with other LGBT activist groups to criticize the allegedly discriminatory portrayal of bisexuality in the TV series “Midnight Caller.” 2

In 1990, GLAAD launched “Project 21,” an effort to insert more pro-LGBT material into public school curricula, and protested under slogans such as “school textbooks have been set a little too straight.” That year, GLAAD also held its first annual media awards ceremony. In 1991, GLAAD convinced Hallmark Cards to start printing cards celebrating lesbian relationships, and in 1994, GLAAD successfully lobbied the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games to move an event that was supposed to take place in Cobb County. The previous year, the county had passed a symbolic resolution stating that “gay lifestyles are incompatible with community standards,” which GLAAD compared to anti-gay laws passed in Nazi Germany. In 1999, the group began a successful campaign to have radio host Laura Schlessinger removed from the radio for criticizing gay relationships. 3

Throughout the first decade of the 2000s, GLAAD pushed for greater acceptance and legalization of gay marriage and built connections with Spanish-language media outlets. In 2005, GLAAD criticized the Ford Motor Company for working with the social-conservative American Family Association, with GLAAD eventually securing a donation pledge from Ford. From 2012 to 2015, GLAAD led a successful campaign to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to accept gay members and leaders. 4

In 2019, GLAAD attacked the Hallmark Channel for deciding not to air ads that showed two women kissing. Hallmark reversed its decision and apologized. 5

Name Change

In 2013, the group dropped its full name, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, but kept its acronym, “GLAAD.” In an interview on MSNBC, spokesperson Wilson Cruz said that the updated name “reflects our work on transgender issues” in addition to gay and lesbian issues. In the interview, Cruz also stated that the group had “expanded beyond fighting defamation” and was now working on “changing the culture” around LGBT issues. 6


GLAAD’s objectives include “shaping the media narrative” and “changing the culture” to be more favorable towards LGBT interests.

GLAAD Media Institute

The GLAAD Media Institute is responsible for organizing training, consulting, and research to further the group’s mission. The Institute offers courses on tailoring pro-LGBT messaging to different audiences, using social media to spread pro-LGBT content, and incorporating other activist skills into media. The Institute also provides consulting services, coaching corporations on GLAAD-approved messaging and training newsrooms to use GLAAD-approved terminology. Finally, the Institute conducts research on Americans’ attitudes towards the LGBT community and the representation of LGBT issues in media. 7

One of the Institute’s main products is the annual “Accelerating Acceptance” report. The 2018 report found that despite pro-LGBT trends over the past several decades, Americans were becoming less supportive of LGBT causes. The report blamed the Trump administration for this shift. 8 The 2019 report found that most Americans supported legal equality for LGBT individuals, but that an increasing number of people were uncomfortable with the prominence of LGBT issues in their families, their children’s schools, or their places of worship. 9

Youth Engagement Program

GLAAD runs several programs designed to mold teenagers and young adults into LGBT activists. 10 The group recruits and trains campus ambassadors to promote pro-LGBT initiatives at American colleges. According to GLAAD, campus ambassadors are necessary because more than 30% of Americans are still uncomfortable with at least some presence of LGBT issues in their personal lives. At the same time, the group claims that 20% of young people identify as LGBT or queer. 11

GLAAD also offers grants to pro-LGBT artists and influencers as part of its Rising Stars program, and celebrates LGBT activists between the ages of 13 and 20. One of these “20 under 20” award recipients is transgender activist Jazz Jennings, who started transitioning at the age of six. Several large companies, including Delta Airlines and Netflix, have sponsored Rising Stars. 121314

Global Voices

The Global Voices initiative promotes the acceptance of the LGBT community around the world. In majority-Christian countries, such as Ireland, the initiative prepares journalists to cover religious meetings, as well as “events related to marriage and family,” in a GLAAD-approved manner. GLAAD has worked in countries including Chile, Italy, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, China, and Nigeria. 15

Southern Stories

In the United States, GLAAD devotes special efforts to its initiatives in the South, citing its finding that “Southerners feel significantly more discomfort” about LGBT issues than the country as a whole. The group aims to “create a cultural shift” to make Southerners more accepting of the LGBT community. 16


LGBT Presidential Forum

GLAAD hosted a forum for Democratic candidates during the months prior to the 2020 Presidential election. At the event, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis claimed that right-of-center policies such as building a border wall and opposing abortion hurt LGBT people. Then-Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that male prisoners who identify as female should be housed with female prisoners, and vice versa. Then-candidate and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) stated his opposition to laws requiring HIV-positive individuals to disclose their status to sexual partners. 17 

Criticism from the Left

In addition to opposition from conservative publications and organizations, GLAAD has received criticism from liberal and left-leaning observers. As early as 2001, left-of-center news outlet AlterNet claimed that “GLAAD has lost its way” and that the group “may have become what it’s supposed to be critiquing – a caricature.” 18 In 2013, The Atlantic’s James Kirchick suggested that “the best thing the organization could do is dissolve.” 19


Sarah Kate Ellis is the president and CEO of GLAAD. She joined GLAAD in 2014 and oversaw the expansion of GLAAD’s mission from pressuring the media and entertainment industry to promoting LGBT issues in society as a whole. 20

Rich Ferraro is the chief communications officer of GLAAD. He also sits on Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, which is responsible for censoring “offensive” speech on the social media platform. 21 Bill McDermott, chief development officer at GLAAD, previously worked as a Catholic priest before shifting his career to LGBT activism and non-profit development. Danna Gordon works as GLAAD’s chief operating officer. Gordon previously worked for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an organization for LGBT youth. 22


In 2018, GLAAD received $19.2 million in contributions and grants. This represented a significant increase from the previous three years, with GLAAD reporting $7.7 million in contributions in 2017, $5.2 million in 2016, and $4.7 million in 2015. From 2015 onward, executive compensation made up between 4 and 5 percent of the group’s expenses, while all other salaries made up between 30 and 40 percent. 23 Through contributions, GLAAD employs more than 40 staff members, sponsors events, and funds its initiatives. 2425 The 2018 revenue spike is likely the result of a $18 million donation from the Ariadne Getty Foundation in 2018. 26 The group’s major corporate partners include Delta Airlines, Gilead Sciences, and Wells Fargo. 27

In 2020, GLAAD predicted a loss of up to $2 million in contributions after the COVID-19 outbreak forced the group to cancel two major fundraising events in New York City and Los Angeles. 28


  1.     GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  2.               About GLAAD, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  3.     About GLAAD, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  4.             About GLAAD, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  5.        Khaleda Rahman, “Hallmark Backtracks After Pulling Ads Showing Lesbian Wedding: ‘It Was The Wrong Decision,’” Newsweek, December 16, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  6.         Jase Peeples, “GLAAD Affirms Commitment To Trans and Bi People, Alters Name,” The Advocate, March 24, 2013. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  7.           An Institute of Change, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  8.        Accelerating Acceptance 2018, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  9.             Nadia Suleman, “Young Americans Are Increasingly ‘Uncomfortable’ With LGBTQ Community, GLAAD Study Shows,” TIME, June 25, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  10.        Youth Engagement Program, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.

  11.            Campus Ambassadors, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.

  12.        “From age 6 to 18: Following trans teen Jazz Jennings’ transition journey,” ABC News, October 15, 2018. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  13.        Grace Higgins, “Reality TV Star Jazz Jennings Recovering After Gender Reassignment Surgery,” InsideTonight, June 29, 2018. Accessed November 10, 2020.

    Reality TV Star Jazz Jennings Recovering After Gender Reassignment Surgery

  14.        Rising Stars, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  15.          Global Voices, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  16.        Southern Stories, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  17.           Brad Polumbo, “The five crazied moments from the Democrats’ LGBT presidential forum,” Washington Examiner, September 23, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  18.             “GLAAD Has Lost Its Way,” AlterNet, September 10, 2001. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  19.             James Kirchick, “How GLAAD Won the Culture War and Lost Its Reason to Exist,” The Atlantic, May 3, 2013. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  20.          Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  21.     Rich Ferraro, Chief Communications Officer, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  22. Darra Gordon, Chief Operating Officer, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  23.         GLAAD INC, ProPublica. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  24.          GLAAD Staff, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  25.        FY19 Annual Report, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  26.   “Ariadne Getty Foundation to match GLAAD end of year donations,” Los Angeles Blade, December 26, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  27.        Corporate & Foundation Partners, GLAAD. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  28.             “GLAAD to lose $2 million in wake of media awards cancellations,” NBC News, March 17, 2020. Accessed November 10, 2020.

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1989

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Sep Form 990 $5,401,462 $3,961,408 $6,689,656 $578,521 N $5,289,230 $0 $53,760 $217,161
    2015 Dec Form 990 $5,061,281 $5,158,959 $4,869,113 $320,603 N $4,773,625 $0 $43,669 $272,266 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $4,672,278 $4,393,384 $5,167,695 $343,559 N $4,432,524 $0 $129,101 $352,666 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $3,333,982 $4,558,516 $4,910,140 $364,898 N $3,123,787 $0 $71,323 $122,055 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $4,101,985 $5,334,404 $6,351,178 $581,402 N $3,731,958 $0 $203,536 $296,751 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $4,107,687 $6,699,322 $7,589,041 $586,846 N $3,876,770 $0 $1,632 $362,962 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

    5455 WILSHIRE BLVD STE 1500
    LOS ANGELES, CA 90036-4204