AIDS Groups React to Apparent Closure of Pallotta TeamWorks
Some AIDS organizations and advocates yesterday weighed in on the news that Pallotta TeamWorks, the for-profit promotions company that operates several AIDSRides and other fundraising events nationwide, has closed its doors, the Los Angeles Times reports. Pallotta announced over the weekend that it was suspending operations and laying off 250 employees. The company still plans to hold several breast cancer walks later this year, and Pallotta spokesperson Janna Sidley said that some of the laid-off employees may be rehired in the future. Pallotta has recently been criticized by AIDS groups that say the company spends too much money on overhead costs at the expense of the charities that the fundraisers are designed to support. Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is not involved with Pallotta rides, said that while the company's closure is unfortunate for those employees who lost their jobs, "in bigger terms, what was lost in the last couple of years was a degree of innocence on the part of donors and participants in these events. There not only needs to be greater scrutiny of not-for-profit organizations, but also for-profit fundraisers," he said (Pool, Los Angeles Times, 8/27). Wayne Turner, an activist with the Washington, D.C., chapter of ACT UP, said, "People are beginning to wake up to the fact these AIDS rides are not about raising money at all. They're about building Dan Pallotta's empire, which is now crumbling."
D.C. AIDS Groups See Low Returns
In related news, the Whitman-Walker Clinic and Food & Friends, the two groups that benefited from the Washington, D.C., AIDSRide, expressed disappointment that the event garnered returns of only about 14 cents on the dollar. Expenses for each rider averaged $2,800, $400 more than each participant needed to raise in order to ride in the event, and the Washington Post reports that the ride turned a profit only because riders raised an average of more than $3,200. Cornelius Baker, head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, said that the low returns can be attributed in part to lower participation in the event; 1,100 cyclists participated in the D.C. AIDSRide this year, compared to 2,000 last year. Several riders also said they had difficulty raising money this year. "A lot of people who usually support me sent their donations straight to Food & Friends. They knew it would be used 100% by the charity," Meyer Persow, a participant in the D.C. AIDSRide, said (Morello, Washington Post, 8/27). The Whitman-Walker Clinic and Food & Friends announced in May that they would sever ties with Pallotta after this year's D.C. AIDSRide, which took place in June (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/31).