Preparing for the 2018 AIDS Philanthropy Summit: A Focus on Community


At FCAA’s 2017 AIDS Philanthropy Summit, one question came up repeatedly: How can funders more effectively support community responses to the epidemic? It was clear that this was a question that we, as an organization, needed to grapple with. Since then, FCAA has been working to better understand what effective funding for community-based action on AIDS looks like. Our research took two separate, but related paths:

  1. We conducted a comprehensive literature review and nearly 40 interviews with community-based organizations, funders and other key stakeholders. This effort was intended to identify key challenges facing community-based organizations as well as some of the best practices in meeting them.
  2. We began looking at the data we collect through our resource tracking efforts in a new way. While we have long analyzed the end beneficiary of philanthropic HIV-related funding — by geography, strategy and target population — we had not previously focused on the organizations that specifically receive the support. This past year, we analyzed each of the roughly 3,600 grantee organizations to determine their entity type (e.g. a civil society organization[i], a hospital, an academic or research institution, etc.).

Our goal in so doing is to establish a better understanding of the first chain in philanthropic funding – the recipient organization.[ii] Ultimately, we are hoping that this new classification will also help us to track the level of resources community-based organizations receive.

We shared a sneak peak of the outcomes from both efforts in July at the AIDS 2018 Conference. There was active engagement and passionate discussion. We were gratified to leave Amsterdam with the sense that we were, indeed, on a useful path; one that merits a great deal of further exploration.

Throughout our research and during the conversations with key stakeholders this past summer, we continually asked: What do we mean by “communities”? Are we referring to:

  • A specific geography or people living in the same country or even village?
  • Or a specific demographic, identity or common experience related to, for instance, age, gender, sexual identity, or HIV status?

Though we won’t be sharing the full analysis of our research until the Summit in November, I am happy to provide a spoiler for you now: the answer to all these questions is “Yes.” Communities are complex. Our approach to funding effective community-based responses must be as well.

We are now just weeks away from the 2018 AIDS Philanthropy Summit. It is, of course, no coincidence that this year’s theme is Catalyzing Communities. As we prepare to spend time together this fall, we would like to ask you to consider how you would complete this sentence:

“In the context of my work in fighting HIV/AIDS, community is….”

Though there will undoubtedly be many definitions, they will all need to be addressed to increase the voice and influence of the communities that are most affected.

We are looking forward to spending the two days of the conference identifying new tools and opportunities to increase investment in the community-based approaches so critical to the fight. We hope you will join us at the 2018 AIDS Philanthropy Summit to continue this conversation.

Registration is now open.



[i] For this analysis, Civil Society Organizations are defined as an umbrella category that represents all non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations that are not also represented as universities, hospitals, foundations or professional associations.

[ii] Future analyses may address the role of organizations that further regrant funds as a funding or intermediary organization, and the role of identity-based community organizations.