The state of HIV/AIDS funding and the need for local fundraisers
With more than 76,000 Texans living with HIV, every funding source counts. But limited state funds force most local HIV/AIDS service providers to look elsewhere.
As with any not-for-profit organization, one solution is to cultivate a reliable donor base, guaranteeing at least a portion of any agency’s budget will be met. But that means planning memorable events, like this weekend’s No Tie Dinner, which benefits AIDS Services of Dallas.
For an organization like ASD, with a lean budget and high demand for services, success means hosting a memorable event at a low price.
No Tie, now in its 10th year, mostly takes place in donors’ homes. Some hosts deck their homes out and invite a large group of friends, ASD’s Event Manager Kristi Holman said. Others just invite a couple of friends to hang out in the backyard.
The point is to allow people to donate in a comfortable environment.
“No Tie Dinner’s production costs are minimal so overhead is low. Funds can directly impact ASD that way,” said the group’s CEO, Don Maison. “The beauty of NTD’s funds is that donations are unrestricted, covering what’s not covered by federal and state grants. Most grants can fund medical care but can’t fund quality of life care for residents.”
But donors also like big events — like DIFFA’s Dallas Collection, Razzle Dazzle Dallas and Black Tie Dinner — that raise donations for multiple organizations.
Like all HIV and AIDS service providers, ASD relies on a variety of funding streams, the most substantial coming from the federal government.
According to the Department of State Health Services’ 2013 report, $337,618,731 went to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment service organizations in Texas. Of that total, $271,789,179 came from Ryan White funds while the remaining $69,887,795 was dispersed at the state and local level.
The Ryan White Program provides funding for medical and support services to organizations serving those living with HIV. Since it was introduced in the 1990s, funds have moved from providing support services to paying mostly for medical services.
Maison identified three main funding streams for his organization: federal government funds, including Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS and Ryan White funds; state funds; and local fundraisers.
“Now that around 75 percent goes toward out patient services, substance abuse, getting nonrestricted funds through private and foundation donors can go to social services,” said Melissa Grove, Legacy Counseling Center’s executive director, said restrictions on those funds still leave a gap in the general operating fund. That means fundraisers are key to filling budget gaps.
“Grants don’t cover everything. Ryan White funding is restricted. You always have to have fundraisers,” she said.
Holman and Maison agreed. No Tie Dinner’s gifts are non-restricted, meaning they can be used toward the organization’s general operating fund.
Though donations are unrestricted and fill a funding gap, service providers still scrape for funds.
One possible source of funding in Texas is currently only on the priority list of public health providers: Medicaid expansion.
“Were we to expand Medicaid or have an alternative waiver, we would make more available in our limited pots of funding for HIV,” said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director and health and wellness program director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank in Austin.
“The challenge facing Medicaid expansion at this point is Democrats have written all of the bills relating to its expansion. But those bills aren’t likely to go far in the state’s overwhelmingly Republican statehouse,” Dunkelberg said.
While federal funds like Medicaid are largely for the uninsured, they only cover some services — the types of services not covered under federal grants.
That’s why cultivating a donor pool is important.
But there’s another reason to prove your organization’s financial strength. Being a successful steward of public funds can also reap rewards in the private sector. In ASD’s case, the Purple Foundation will serve as NTD’s presenting sponsor for the event, a first for the organization. A new platinum level sponsor, the Deason Foundation, hosted another first for the organization: a sponsor appreciation dinner.
Along with the others’ help, including Seattle-based Microsoft, NTD has already doubled sponsorship across sponsor levels. “It was amazing,” Maison said, crediting hosts Doug and Holly Deason for an impressive evening.
But Holman with ASD said they’d take checks any time. “We’ll take checks up until the event and of course after,” she said.
No Tie Dinner
Benefitting AIDS Services of Dallas
Saturday, March 28, at 7 p.m. at
Frontiers of Flight Museum
6911 Lemmon Avenue
General Admission Price: $75
• Dinner with your host
• Admission to the Flight Museum
• All-you-can eat dessert
• Open bar
• Access to general auction items
VIP Admission Price: $150
Limited quantity available
Everything in general plus:
• VIP section with designated bar
• Concierge service
• VIP only auction items
• VIP only raffle