Elton John AIDS Foundation Announces U.S. Grantmaking After Extensive Overhaul


*This article originally appeared on The Body.

Elton John has often flown beyond our stratosphere, whether riding the recently released biopic that earned $25.7 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. or the 40-year rock-star career that is the basis of the movie. In between the Rocketman currently in theaters and the “Rocket Man” featured on 1972’s Honky Château, John has soared to new philanthropic heights with what he calls “one of the most precious things” in his and husband David Furnish’s lives: the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF).

The New York and United Kingdom branches of EJAF disbursed a combined $19.7 million in 2017 and ranked fifth among global funders of HIV/AIDS philanthropy in the most recent analysis by the nonprofit Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA). And EJAF’s funding levels continue to climb while, overall, donor interest and commitment to HIV/AIDS advocacy sputters .

“It’s a very, very important player — and not just because they’re one of the biggest overall, but because the areas they focus on are areas that are often under-resourced by other funders,” said FCAA executive director John Barnes, noting the attention EJAF has devoted to black gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and those dealing with substance abuse. “They’ve been a leader in all of these vanguard areas and really made it safe for other funders to go there.” However, EJAF’s long, long flight has given it a gravitational pull that affects HIV/AIDS nonprofits across the globe, so when it tweaks its operations, the impact can ripple throughout the industry and unsettle the groups it aims to help. And much change has occurred in a startlingly brief time at EJAF. In the past nine months, the organization announced its founder and namesake’s exit from the board of directors, the resignation of its longtime U.S. executive director and figurehead, Scott Campbell , the consolidation of its U.K. and U.S. organizations into a single global entity, and a delay in implementing Fund for Resilience, Equity, and Engagement (FREE) — a fund for projects by and for black gay and bisexual men and transgender women across the U.S .

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