At Nearly $706 Million, 2019 Marked the Highest Level of Philanthropic HIV Funding—with a Caveat

Number of funders remains limited and resources are decreasing in critical areas

Washington, D.C., May 6, 2021 – Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) today released its 18thannual Philanthropic Support to Address HIV/AIDS report. This year’s analysis of private HIV/AIDS philanthropy shows an increase of $49 million, or 7% from 2018, for a total of nearly $706 million. This is the highest level of giving since FCAA began tracking HIV-related philanthropy almost 20 years ago. However, that rise was driven almost entirely by a single, $100 million payment from one funder and belies what would have otherwise been an overall decrease in HIV-related philanthropy.  
“As we’ve seen in the past several reports, philanthropic resources for HIV/AIDS have remained relatively flat at a time when we can ill-afford stagnation,” said Channing Wickham, FCAA’s Board Chair. “What’s more, the number of funders is shrinking, with the majority of grants given by just a few grant-makers. This puts us in a very vulnerable position should the priorities of an ever-smaller number of investors shift.”

Out of the 264 funders analyzed in the report, the top 20 account for 92% of the year’s total, the highest level of resources concentrated among these top funders to date. Compare this to just five years ago, when the top 20 funders accounted for only 80% of total giving. Furthermore, the top two funders—The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gilead Sciences, Inc.—represent over 50% of grantmaking each year.

As referenced above, this year’s increase was also almost entirely driven by just one of the top 20 funders—a $100 million investment in HIV research from the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Foundation. To better understand the significance of this single investment, FCAA assessed comparable 2018-2019 funding levels without it, finding a 4% overall decrease. Given that the specific parameters of the Ragon Foundation’s grant focused solely on global HIV research, many other critical areas in the response did not benefit from this year’s increase. This is reflected in decreases in support to most geographies, strategies, and populations, including, notably:

  • The vast majority of people living with HIV/AIDS reside in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), yet HIV-related philanthropy to LMIC decreased by 32% from 2018 to 2019.
  • While key populations and their sexual partners account for most new global HIV infections, HIV-related philanthropy for key populations decreased 12% in 2019.

While the 2019 calendar year data examined in this year’s report was not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report highlights gaps in the response that existed pre-COVID-19; gaps that will now be compounded.

“The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic are not new to people living with, or at risk of HIV—especially LGBTQ and Black, Indigenous and people of color communities in the U.S., and key populations globally,” said John Barnes, FCAA’s Executive Director. “This report reveals that funding to those impacted communities was already in decline prior to the onset of COVID-19. We hope this data can serve as a call to action for funders to prioritize these issues now and long after COVID-19 has come and gone.”

The complete findings of the study are available here.

About the Philanthropic Support to Address HIV/AIDS Report

FCAA first began its annual analysis of private funding for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the year 2000. The report captures data on more than 5,000 grants, awarded by 264 foundations in 15 countries, and identifies gaps, trends, and opportunities in HIV-related philanthropy. Sharing this study with funders enables them to make informed decisions about where their resources would make the most difference.

About FCAA

Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) is a philanthropy-serving organization (PSO) founded in 1987 to take bold actions and push philanthropy to respond to HIV/AIDS. FCAA informs, connects, and supports philanthropy to mobilize resources to end the global HIV pandemic and build the social, political and economic commitments necessary to attain health, human rights, and justice for all.