AIDS Walk to Sever Ties with SFAF
The founder and producer of AIDS Walk San Francisco is severing ties with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation after the 2013 fundraising event.
Craig R. Miller, who began MZA Events 25 years ago, has signed a one-year contract with Project Inform to be the lead agency for the 2014 event, the Bay Area Reporter has learned. He approached leaders of the nonprofit, which does policy advocacy work and runs several help lines for people with HIV and hepatitis C, several months ago with the proposal.
"After much consideration we are honored to accept it," said Project Inform Executive Director Dana Van Gorder. "He took an opportunity to step back and look at where things are in the epidemic and the welfare of AIDS organizations generally and felt that smaller agencies in the community, including Project Inform, need additional support."
Miller told the B.A.R. during a phone interview Tuesday that he had informed officials with the city’s largest AIDS nonprofit in 2011 that he felt it was time to transition the walk to a new agency and had wanted to make the break after this year’s event. But at the urging of SFAF CEO Neil Giuliano, Miller pushed back the timing by 12 months.
"I think it is incumbent upon all of us to look around from time to time and ask ourselves as AIDS activists what is the best next thing to do," said Miller. "So as my colleagues and I assess the landscape of AIDS organizations in the Bay Area, and assess the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS in the Bay Area as we look ahead two years down the road, our best judgment is a shift of emphasis of the AIDS walk to Project Inform and the large coalition of co-beneficiaries is in order."
Miller will continue to collaborate with SFAF on hosting next year’s walk and is promising to make several "great innovations" to freshen up what will be the 27th anniversary of the second-largest AIDS fundraiser in the Bay Area. Organizers estimate that roughly $1.7 million from the 2012 walk, which raised a total of nearly $2.73 million, will be distributed to 46 agencies throughout the region.
Giuliano told the B.A.R. that his agency was "disappointed and surprised" by Miller’s decision. Nonetheless, he said SFAF would ensure that the 2013 walk is the "best ever."
"We are very concerned about 2013. Our view is we want to make it the most successful walk we have ever participated in," he said.
But at the same time, SFAF’s executive team will be deliberating what actions to take in 2014 to recoup the sizeable hit to its budget that year without the proceeds from the AIDS Walk. The last several years the event has funneled roughly $650,000 to the AIDS foundation’s various programs and services.
There is no clause in its contract with MZA Events restricting SFAF from launching its own walk-type event. What sort of additional fundraising event SFAF may create in two years remains undecided. Nor was Giuliano certain if his agency would apply through Project Inform to benefit from the 2014 AIDS walk.
"My board has asked me to take the first six months of 2013 and pull creative minds together and brainstorm and think about how will we replace this lost revenue," said Giuliano.
Since he joined SFAF two years ago this month, Giuliano has focused on the agency’s fundraising expenses. He opted to cancel its smaller Seismic Challenge bike ride in November 2011 due to the high cost to produce it compared to the money raised.
He also worked with Miller to reduce the AIDS Walk costs and fees paid to MZA Events.