Whitman-Walker Clinic Considers Whether to Continue Hosting D.C. AIDS Walk in Wake of Declining Proceeds
The Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic has formed a task force to evaluate whether the organization should continue to host its annual AIDS Walk fundraiser in light of declining proceeds from the event in recent years, the Washington Post reports. Whitman-Walker had hoped to raise $840,000 from the event this year, but proceeds "fell far short" of this goal. The event, which was held on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C., drew about 7,000 participants and raised less than $600,000. But expenses for the walk typically cost about $490,000, which means that the clinic is expected to receive only $100,000 in proceeds -- less than 20% of total revenue -- from this year's event, according to Whitman-Walker spokesperson Michael Cover. "We are disappointed that this year's walk did not meet even its modest minimum financial projections. We are evaluating how we can continue to produce this event, given the costs associated with it and the net return over the past few years," Whitman-Walker Executive Director Cornelius Baker said (Morello, Washington Post, 10/24). In response to falling proceeds, Whitman-Walker has cut expenses for the event by 30% over the past three years, and the organization has also cut $2 million from its $26 million budget. Whitman-Walker officials said last month that they may have to reduce services at the clinic if this year's AIDS Walk did not raise enough funds (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/25). Last year's walk, which was held shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, netted only $4,000 for the clinic. The 1997 D.C. AIDS Walk, by contrast, collected a total revenue of $2.6 million, $1.7 million of which went to the clinic. After two consecutive years in which proceeds for the organization "fell substantially short of its goal," the clinic has convened a 20-member task force to discuss "how, or whether, to go ahead with the event" in the future. The panel will report its findings to the organization's board of directors at its December meeting.
Rethinking the AIDS Walk
Cover said he does not believe that the panel will recommend discontinuing the walk, adding that the task force will likely try to develop strategies for boosting participation in the event. In its analysis, the task force will look at how charities in other cities have staged fundraising events. Fundraising walks and runs have "proven popular" because participants often garner donations from friends and family members who otherwise would not donate to charity, the Post reports. However, charities in recent years have found it difficult to attract participants and donors. Cover said that the faltering economy and increased competition for donations have hurt charities and their fundraising events. Whitman-Walker Development Director Tim Turnham added that AIDS Walks in cities other than Washington have experienced such difficulties. "Some have rebounded, while others have continued in a state of decline. Among the issues that we need to address are the reasons why we have not been able to attract the large numbers of walkers we have in the past," Turnham said (Washington Post, 10/24).