HIV/AIDS Organizations Looking to Fill the Revenue Gap Left by Cancellation of AIDS Rides
AIDS bicycle fundraisers, once among the most profitable fundraisers for HIV/AIDS organizations, are declining in popularity, leaving charities looking for other events to replace the revenue, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The Heartland AIDSRide and the Washington, D.C., AIDSRide will not be staged next year, a Texas AIDS bicycle event ended two years ago and "prospects are uncertain" for AIDSRides in California and the Northeast. At one point, the country's six major AIDSRides were raising more than $13 million for HIV/AIDS organizations, but ridership has fallen in the wake of the economic downturn, the Sept. 11 attacks and controversy over the expenses incurred by AIDSRide promoter Pallotta TeamWorks.
Charities in Minnesota have started looking at alternative fundraising events to fill the void left by the conclusion of the Heartland AIDSRide. Some organizations have discussed staging a three-day bike ride for Minnesota charities. AIDS Events Minnesota will continue its "dining with friends" program, in which volunteers host fundraising dinners in their homes. Rick Cowles, executive director of Charities Review Council of Minnesota, said that "high-logistics, high-cost special events," such as golf tournaments, are generally "not the most effective way to support a charity" and that organizations are becoming more aware of this fact. "If you want to support a charity, write them a check," Cowles said. Sheila Fishman, a lawyer for not-for-profit groups and the former head of the Minnesota attorney general's charities division, said that high-cost events may not always be the way to go, but that people who used to donate money through the AIDSRides will probably stop giving once the rides end. "[T]he problem is, people who are ... donating through the ride will cease doing so, and the AIDS organizations will suffer. That's always the dilemma," she said. The end of the Heartland AIDSRide comes "during an upswing in foundation" spending on HIV/AIDS causes. The organization Funders Concerned About AIDS recently reported that from 1999 to 2000, grant commitments quadrupled to $312 million, although $179 million of that total came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for use overseas (Franklin, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/5).