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Where Does San Francisco’s AIDSWalk Money Go?

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2010

You’d probably guess San Fransisco, with some maybe to other bay-area communities like Oakland or Daly City. How about Ukraine?

This Sunday, San Francisco will host its annual AIDSWalk in Golden Gate Park. As with AIDSWalks that take place around the country, I would imagine that every one of those 25,000 participants are volunteering for this important charity event to raise money for AIDS charities in the local community. But according to the New York Times, the bulk of the money raised by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation will actually go to Cambodia, China, Ukraine, and five countries in Africa.  In 2008, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation awarded 57% of its grant money to the Pangea Global AIDS Foundation, a separate international charity founded by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 2001 and with which it shares office space and employees. (Update: Michael Petrelis notes that Pangea was headed by Dr. Eric Goosby in 2001. He is now the United States Global AIDS Coordinator.) In 2009, 73% of the Foundation’s grants went to Pangea.

Ms. Kimport [Barbara Kimport, the Foundation’s interim Chief Executive] said that in recent years the foundation’s support of Pangaea had come from other sources of money, not AIDS Walk donations. The walk last July raised $3.5 million. Foundation records show only $246,000 in grants to local groups in the 2009 calendar year. During the same period, the records show, Pangaea received $500,000.

Reactions were mixed. One participant in the Foundation’s cycling fundraisers said, “I recognize that the epidemic is universal.” But others feel deceived:

“I have friends who are positive,” [Jamie] McPherson said, believing that the money would go to support them. “Does it bother me?” he said. “Yeah, it does. You’ve got to take care of home first.”

Local AIDS charities report financial strains due to the financial crisis:

Mike Smith, president of San Francisco’s H.I.V./AIDS Providers Network, which represents 40 nonprofit groups, said the recession had strained budgets and fund-raising. “We have the highest density of people living with H.I.V. in the nation,” Mr. Smith said — 35,000 people infected in a city with a population of less than 800,000. “It’s staggering.”



July 16th, 2010 | LINK

Jim, I think this story would take on even more importance if you looked into how MUCH of the money goes to service vs. how much of it goes to the Exec Director, staff, administration, marketing, etc.

This is usually a place where the gay charities (see EQCA) tend to fall apart: The peeps at the top take home a big fat paycheck, and when you compare it to other service charities, and look at the charity ratings, they are dismal.

I don’t know if this is the case with AWSF, but I would sure love to see some examination of it.

Paul F
July 16th, 2010 | LINK

Yes, I agree with Rossi:

The bigger story seems to be how much money goes to the SF AIDS Foundation’s admin and expenses.

If I’m reading these numbers correctly, it seems only $746K went to AIDs services. Does that mean $2.8 Million (79%) went to the Foundations admin and expenses?

Nine years ago SF AIDS Foundation parted with Dan Pallotta because they thought his expense ratio in running AIDS Ride was too high. (In 2001, the last year before this break with SF AIDS Foundation, Pallotta’s company netted $69 million for charities out of $136 million in revenues from 16 charity events; 49 percent of revenues were used to pay for Pallotta’s firm’s expenses and fees.)

So with Pallotta they were seeing a 51% return. But now they’re only seeing a 21% return?

If this is correct, then this could be a big story. SF AIDS Foundation and LA AIDS Foundation parted with Pallotta 9 years ago and started doing their own rides, saying they could do better on their own.

Looks like they’re failing. Sounds like we should see their Financial Reports.

Mark F.
July 16th, 2010 | LINK

I’ve participated in this walk, and I also thought the money was going to local charities. (Nothing wrong with helping people in other countries, but people are being deceived here.) Also, I agree that the amount of money being spent on administrative expenses needs to be disclosed.

And if you you do know someone with HIV/AIDS who needs help, maybe you should just cut out the middleman and help him directly.

Mike C
July 16th, 2010 | LINK

Personally, I’m sick and tired of hearing the amount of $$ the U.S. donates to other countries, whether that be through our government or through our citizens.

Why must we be the saviors of the world when we can’t take care of our own people at home?

ADAP waiting lists, Federal Gov’t $25M grant for ADAP, it’s all money on top of money.

Damn it, I want my $$ to go directly to a serviceable group within the United States.

We fight wars for other countries in the name of democracy and it’s our servicemen coming home in caskets. We spend billions to take care of other countries and their starvation while we have people hungry here. It all HAS to stop for a change.

Organizations like the San Fran Aids Walk need to be investigated further, reported on, and the information made readily available to those making donations or volunteering their time!

July 16th, 2010 | LINK

hum…talking to a friend about AWSF last night. I have taken part in AWSF since year 2 and would also do the Dance-A-thon that was put on by the same organization until the last year of it. The last one was done by Project Open Hand I believe. As the date got closer I had not heard from them and usually I would get a call or 2 asking for my help. When I didn’t hear from them I called and asked how come I didn’t get a call, Well i didn’t get a call because the organization that had been putting it on would not share their mailing list. How charitable is that? These contacts when made through volunteers and turned over to this organization and would not share this information with the new group that was putting on this same fund raiser. Shouldn’t this information belong to the event. Really left a bad taste in my mouth and i have decided to not donate my time for 2 years now.

Timothy (TRiG)
July 16th, 2010 | LINK

We fight wars for other countries in the name of democracy and it’s our servicemen coming home in caskets.

How many times has the US toppled democracies and installed dictators? I lose count after a while.


paul j stein
July 17th, 2010 | LINK

The AIDS funding system is a big CASH COW for the administrators and staff. I was REFUSED help for security improvements in my home after numerous thefts (10). I couldn’t get ANY utility help after paying out $800 for security doors. I get ssi and they said pay for it yourself. I removed myself from their client list and sent some e-mails but was shut out by state officials. ARC OHIO is a sham!

chicago dyke
July 18th, 2010 | LINK

just like in politics, and there’s plenty of overlap, nonprofit administration culture is fucked to the max just now, imho. i’ve had plenty of experience with nonprofits and charities over the years, and it seems to me the last 10-15 years have seen a really ugly emphasis on “attracting top talent” with high admin pay and loose monitoring of what they do with the money. as the first few posters noted, i’d agree the real story isn’t that poor brown people in Latin America get the money, but that 20% of donations go to helping the sick, and the rest to pay the staff and their “expenses.” lots and lots of major charities and nonprofits have this problem, btw.

bottom line: research your charity, thoroughly, before you give. always.

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