Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mid Week Break Out Special

September is in high gear and so is this forum as we keep it coming from Arkansas only LGBTQ daily updating blog site. Just like all the rest, we've got "hot topics," updates, commentary, observations and so much more. Much of this weeks outing will focus on, Money, Money, Money. Yes, that right, where are the Benjamin's and what are we doing or not doing with them. Are you ready, if not get ready....let's roll!

It's not always about my musing, it's often those great sources of material that I discover that assist with staying OnPoint. I discovered this item from Ledge magazine concerning what else, Why Black HIV/AIDS organizations are in the midst of funding nightmares. I found this to be a timely article that would share some insight on the issue and perhaps become a teachable moment for this community as to why these organization or any agency for that matter, will not flourish without your financial or in-kind assistance. Take notice, if we are not there for them, believe me they eventually won't be there when we need them. Think about it folks, then get busy.

The “Truth” about why
Black AIDS groups
struggle for funding
and what we can do
about it.
LEDGE speaks with Jamil Fletcher, leading fundraising expert.
Funding is the life’s blood of all non-profits. For Black AIDS groups, it is a
never-ending, uphill battle. Ledge had the opportunity to speak with Jamil
Flecther, one of the nation’s leading development experts, on why this is the
case and what we can do about it.
LEDGE: While it is evident that many non-profits struggle for funding, why do
you think Black AIDS groups seem to face an even greater uphill climb for
financial support?
JF: Where do I begin! There are numerous reasons why Black AIDS groups
are particularly challenged with securing funding. Most of these organizations
lack the capacity to cultivate the types of stakeholders required to offer
ongoing, sustainable financial support. We are talking about community based
organizations that have limited staff resources, operating with annual
budgets less than one million dollars.
Chances are they function without a fulltime staff member who is dedicated
to raising money. In most cases, the organizations were started by activist
who responded to a need without the luxury of having access to wealthy
benefactors. As they were able to secure government funding and grants
over the years to operate programs, most organizations never invested in
building their base of discretionary financial support amongst diverse funding
streams. Our organizations just do not have the donors in place.
The lack of overall interest in addressing HIV/AIDS within African American
communities also presents a challenge to securing funds. The issue is still
somewhat taboo given how the disease remains associated with
homosexuality and other marginalized demographics (prostitutes,
intravenous drug users, the incarcerated, etc.). Institutions that typically
support Black causes have offered nominal support, at best, in response to
our community’s apathetic posture regarding this issue. Traditional
institutions that are typically in the forefront of advocating for health issues
within our communities are not quite fully engaged in this issue. It’s just a
little too uncomfortable for some to get involved.
There has also been a major push to direct government funding towards
direct medical services, which most Black AIDS groups do not provide.
LEDGE: Traditionally, from what sources do most Black AIDS groups receive
funding? Have those sources been slowed during this economic downturn?
JF: Most Black AIDS organizations are still primarily supported by
government funding, on both the national and local level. Ideally, any
charity should have a diverse revenue stream to permit them to endure
decreases in any one particular source. Relying solely upon government
funding can be especially problematic, as the agenda and focus varies with
different administrations. Just look at the differences between Presidents
Bush and Clinton. President Bush’s emphasis on “abstinence only” diverted
much-needed dollars from ongoing interventions that were often housed
within Black AIDS organizations. The programs often disappeared as the
funding went away.
The downturn in the economy has significantly impacted governmental
resources, both nationally and locally. Many municipalities have been forced
to cut much needed services, especially health and human services to poor,
underserved communities. I have heard that some Black AIDS service
organizations have been forced to cut much of their programs.
LEDGE: During your years in development work, what are the significant
changes–good or bad–you’ve seen as it relates to fundraising for Black nonprofits?
JF: I cannot honestly say that much has changed when it comes to raising
money for Black charitable organizations. The bulk of funding still comes
from sources outside of the community being served. We as a people tend to
rely upon everyone else to support our organizations except when it comes
to our churches. Government, corporate and foundation funding remain
prominent sources of revenue for our organizations across the board.
LEDGE: How much does competition for the same funds impact Black AIDS
groups’ ability to secure funding?
JF: Competition plays a role. Groups with complimentary services are
strongly encouraged to develop working collaborations to achieve their goals
instead of competing against each other.
LEDGE: Do you think mainstream AIDS groups face the same funding issues
as Black groups? If not/if so – Why?
JF: First of all, there are no “mainstream” AIDS groups. Most organizations
addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic were started by white gay men. While
they are not marginalized by race, they are still marginalized just the same.
That being said, such organizations currently serve a largely Black
Funding overall for HIV/AIDS support has decreased and thus everyone is
affected. White gay men continue to support these organizations despite the
shift in the demographic being served, but their continued connection has the
possibility of fading over time.
LEDGE: What can Black AIDS groups do to generate new, untapped revenue
JF: We must expand the universe of stakeholders both inside and outside of
our communities, and develop the capacity to cultivate relationships, and
thus support, by engaging anyone that is concerned about Black people in
this fight.
Survey your environment and examine all of the institutions in your midst
that have a stake in curving the trend of infections and invite them to invest
in your organizations. Create advisory committees to leverage support from
corporate, religious and media stakeholders.
Raising money is all about building relationships, and relationships take time
to develop. I would encourage all organizations to invest in the services of a
professional fundraiser.
Remember, people give money to people they know and even more to people
they like. So, take the time to build relationships and interest with people
who have either the capacity to give or access to others who have the
capacity to give.
LEDGE: How can everyday folk help in the fundraising process, in particular
young people?
JF: Everyone can play a role in securing funding for his or her charity of
choice. We all know someone who knows someone that knows someone that
is willing and able to make a donation.
While you may not be able to make a significant financial contribution
yourself, your passionate advocacy and commitment may convince someone
else to write a check.
So, join an advisory committee or volunteer at a fundraising event. All of that
goes a long way in helping to raise money.
Jamil A. Fletcher : Mr. Fletcher has more than 10 years of non-profit fundraising experience working with international,
national and community-based organizations. Jamil has worked extensively within the HIV/AIDS field with
organizations like the National Minority AIDS Council, Black AIDS Institute, and Whitman-Walker Clinic.
Some of the other organizations Mr. Fletcher has worked with include the United Negro College Fund
(UNCF), Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB), National Youth Advocacy Coalition
(NYAC), C-Span, and Children's National Medical Center just to name a few. Jamil also serves as a
fundraising consultant/instructor with the Office of Minority Health Resource Center.

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