In 1987, six years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first AIDS-related death, the government response was woefully inadequate. Philanthropy was similarly slow to respond to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk for contracting the virus. As a result, there was an enormous gap in the funding necessary to fight the epidemic.
Watch a brief video on the history of the philanthropic response to HIV and AIDS
Not coincidentally, 1987 was also the year that a group of grantmakers dedicated to bringing philanthropic attention to the crisis founded FCAA. Throughout the next several years, under the leadership of Executive Director, Michael Seltzer, and Board Chair, Joyce Bove, the organization produced its first set of publications, including guides for AIDS grant making as well as public policy and advocacy. In 1995, the organization co-sponsored the first-ever White House Conference on AIDS.
During these critical years, and under the new leadership of Paul Di Donato, FCAA expanded its global programming to include strategic collaborations with UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and major U.S.-based international grantmakers. The organization continued to host a variety of convenings and published its first resource tracking report in 2002. In addition, it facilitated the first AIDS-focused issue of Council on Foundation’s Foundation News & Commentary Magazine in 2004.
In 2005, FCAA joined with the European HIV/AIDS Funders and UNAIDS in an effort to align approaches to global resource tracking. With Sunita Viswanath as Executive Director, the organization co-hosted a “Dialogue About Collaborative Funding” at the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto. At the next conference, in Mexico City in 2008, FCAA facilitated a conversation on “Funder Partnerships.”
That same year, FCAA launched the “Spotlight: Alabama” program to examine the epidemic and philanthropic response in that state. Subsequent spotlights focused on Washington D.C., and the issue of state budget cuts.
In 2009, long-time Board member, John Barnes, moved into his current role as FCAA’s Executive Director. A greater focus was placed on maximizing impact through evidence-based funding and putting philanthropic resources into the broader context of public funding. Also in 2009, the organization hosted its first ever annual gathering, bringing together more than 200 U.S. HIV/AIDS funders. Since then, the FCAA Annual Philanthropy Summit has become a signature event, continuing to draw key influencers in the U.S. and global HIV/AIDS funding arena each year.