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Top 20 HIV/AIDS Charities

How to Select the Charity That Will Best Use Your Donation Dollar

By

Updated June 02, 2014

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It's always good to follow your heart, but when it comes to selecting an HIV/AIDS charity, start first by following the money. According to Daniel Borochoff of the American Institute of Philanthropy, non-profit charities should aspire to fulfill the following criteria:

  • To spend at least 75% of their cash budget on bona fide programs.
  • To raise $100 from every $15 spent fundraising.
  • To not hold over three years of available assets in reserve.
  • To operate with complete financial transparency.

Surprisingly, only a small handful of HIV/AIDS charities manage to meet this standard, and it's often difficult to get the facts on organizations that might otherwise look good on paper.

Charity Watchdogs

The non-profit Charity Navigator is one of a group of independent, online watchdogs that provide donors with an in-depth analysis of a charity's financial health, accountability and outcomes. Others, like San Francisco-based GiveWell, evaluate international charities based on cost-effectiveness and evidence of impact (in terms of lives saved or lives improved), as well as the group's ability to effectively absorb and utilize donor funding.

While both of these sites offer potent evaluative insights, numbers and ratings alone should never be the sole criteria for selection. An organization that spends nominally less on programs may fulfill other needs more effectively than those with a better dollar-for-dollar rating.

Ultimately it's about where you, the donor, perceive the greatest need. And that's where heart does play a part. Always pick the cause that strikes a chord in you personally. Not only will that guide your decision-making, it will benefit the charity by better ensuring consistent support in the long term.

Top 20 Charities By Category

[Please note that selection was limited to charitable organizations whose missions are solely dedicated to HIV/AIDS. Because of this, a number of worthy charities have, regrettably, been excluded—including the Magic Johnson Foundation, God's Love We Deliver, Africare, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Family Care International, and others.]

AIDS Research

Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center
Based: New York City
Program Reach: International
Founded: 1991
Program Budget: $17,764,436 (reported 2012 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 84%
Charity Snapshot: "The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, the world's largest private HIV/AIDS research center, is committed to finding solutions to end the AIDS epidemic by conducting basic discovery research and by developing novel therapies, vaccines and other prevention strategies."

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Based: New York City, Washington, D.C., Bangkok
Program Reach: International
Founded: 1985
Budget: $26,290,908 (reported 2011 Annual Report)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 76%
Charity Snapshot: "amfAR is dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research. amfAR-funded research has increased our understanding of HIV and has helped lay the groundwork for major advances in the study and treatment of HIV/AIDS."

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)
Based: New York City
Program Reach: International
Founded: 1996
Budget: $79,059,033 (reported 2011 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 81%
Mission: "IAVI works with partners in 25 countries to research, design and develop AIDS vaccine candidates. The organization also conducts policy analysis and serves as an advocate for the AIDS vaccine field."

At-Risk Communities

Bailey House
Based: New York City
Program Reach: New York City
Founded: 1983
Budget: $9,133,064 (reported 2012 tax returns)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 83%
Charity Snapshot: "Bailey House serves hundreds of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in neighborhoods throughout New York City. We provide housing and services that help clients address homelessness, poverty, hunger, substance use, mental illness and other critical issues that make survival hard, if not impossible."

Black AIDS Institute
Based: Los Angeles
Program Reach: National
Founded: 1999
Budget: $1,666,132 (reported 2011 tax returns)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 86%
Charity Snapshot: "The Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute's Mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV."

Children/Pediatric HIV

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Based: Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Geneva
Program Reach: International
Founded: 1988
Budget: $ 164,151,044 (reported 2011 tax returns)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 90%
Charity Snapshot: "The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks to prevent pediatric HIV infection and to eradicate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs."

Global HIV/AIDS

Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance
Based: Larkspur, California
Program Reach: Malawi
Founded: 2000
Budget: $3,053,180 (reported 2011 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 84%
Charity Snapshot: "We currently work in Malawi, a small country located in Sub-Saharan Africa at the epicenter of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic where 44,000 people die of AIDS-related illnesses each year and over 610,000 children have been orphaned because of the disease."

mothers2mothers
Based: Los Angeles, London, Cape Town
Program Reach: Africa
Founded: 2001
Program Budget: $15,816,324 (2012 Annual Report)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 90%
Charity Snapshot: "mothers2mothers is an NGO that helps to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Our mission is to improve the health of mothers living with HIV, putting them at the heart of efforts to eliminate pediatric AIDS."

Keep A Child Alive (formerly Children Affected by AIDS Foundation)
Based: New York City, Los Angeles, Durban
Program Reach: Africa and India
Founded: 2002
Budget: $4,618,448 (reported 2011 tax returns)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 86%
Charity Snapshot: "We support innovative, community-led responses that increase access to life-saving HIV treatment and care, nutritious food, and loving support for children and families living with and affected by HIV in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and India."

Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation
Based: Oakland, California
Program Reach: International
Founded: 2001
Budget: $4,034,809 (reported 2012 tax returns)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 84%
Charity Snapshot: "Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation builds partnerships that improve the lives of people living with and most at-risk for HIV. We work with partners around the world to implement sustainable, comprehensive and evidence-informed programs through technical cooperation, research, policy and advocacy."

HIV Advocacy

Project Inform
Based: San Francisco
Program Reach: National
Founded: 1985
Budget: $1,545,098 (reported 2012 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 80%
Charity Snapshot: "Project Inform fights the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics by assuring the development of effective treatments and a cure; supporting individuals to make informed choices about their health; advocating for quality, affordable health care; and promoting medical strategies that prevent new infections."

HIV/AIDS Funding

AIDS United (formerly National AIDS Fund)
Based: Washington, D.C.
Program Reach: U.S. and Puerto Rico
Founded: 1988
Budget: $15,277,389 (reported 2011 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 94%
Charity Snapshot: "AIDS United combines private-sector fundraising, philanthropy, coalition building, public policy expertise, and advocacy—as well as a network of local and state partners—to most effectively and efficiently respond to the epidemic in the communities most impacted by it."

Elton John AIDS Foundation
Based: New York City, London
Program Reach: International
Founded: 1992
Budget: $9,963,524 (reported 2011 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 94%
Charity Snapshot: "EJAF's grant-making encompasses grassroots and community-based programs, regional partnerships, national strategies, and international cooperative efforts. The Foundation's grant-making focuses on HIV prevention, harm reduction, community health and human rights empowerment campaigns, stigma eradication, and compassionate public policy development."

Regional AIDS Organizations

AIDS Emergency Fund
Based: San Francisco
Program Reach: San Francisco County
Founded: 1982
Budget: $2,051,262 (2011; source Charity Navigator)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 78%
Charity Snapshot: "AIDS Emergency Fund responds compassionately to the AIDS crisis by providing immediate, short-term financial assistance to help people disabled by HIV/AIDS to cover their basic human needs and stabilize their living situations."

AIDS Foundation Houston
Based: Houston
Program Reach: Greater Houston
Founded: 1982
Budget: $9,032,303 (reported 2011 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 83%
Charity Snapshot: "As Texas' first organization dedicated to HIV prevention education and services, AFH has steadily evolved from a grass-roots community agency to a professionally managed human services organization that provides many services low-income, HIV+ men, women, and children."

AIDS Project Los Angeles
Based: Los Angeles
Program Reach: Los Angeles County
Founded: 1983
Budget: $18,837,342 (reported 2012 Annual Report)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 75%
Charity Snapshot: "AIDS Project Los Angeles is dedicated to: improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease; reducing the incidence of HIV infection; and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy."

Cascade AIDS Project
Based: Portland, Oregon
Program Reach: Portland
Founded: 1988
Budget: $5,022,201 (reported 2012 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 80%
Charity Snapshot: "Cascade AIDS Project helps people put their lives back together; to secure housing, find essential medical care and deal with the countless issues that make the difference between giving up or getting up and going on."

Desert AIDS Project
Based: Palm Springs, California
Program Reach: Riverside and San Bernadino Counties
Founded: 1984
Budget: $15,160,407 (2011; source Charity Navigator)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 82%
Charity Snapshot: "Desert AIDS Project is one of only a handful of agencies operating an on-site medical clinic, a full range of client support services, and a comprehensive HIV education and prevention program, including free and confidential HIV testing."

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC)
Based: New York City
Program Reach: New York City
Founded: 1982
Budget: $28,427,062 (reported 2012 Annual Report)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 90%
Charity Snapshot: "GMHC is the world's first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy. Building on decades of dedication and expertise, we understand the reality of HIV/AIDS and empower a healthy life for all."

San Francisco AIDS Foundation
Based: San Francisco
Program Reach: San Francisco County
Founded: 1982
Budget: $23,406,200 (reported 2012 tax return)
Percentage (%) of Budget Spent on Programs: 80%
Charity Snapshot: "Our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco because we refuse to accept HIV as inevitable. Through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease."

Source:

Charitywatch.org. "Statement of Daniel Borochoff, President, American Institute of Philanthropy, Chicago, Illinois, Testimony Before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Hearing on Veterans Charities." Chicago, Illinois; December 13, 2007.

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