Show Me the Money

Written by | Wellness

We know that glitzy celebrity

fundraisers and high-profile walking and cycling events can raise major money. But when they’re over, where do the funds go?

Elton John. Sharon Stone. Bill Clinton. Isabella Rossellini: All celebrities who’ve used their names and fame for AIDS-related causes. Organizations and foundations throw glamorous parties, arrange complicated bike rides, and recruit A-list celebs to help ask for money. But what comes next? We look at two important fundraisers — one on the west coast and one on the east — and follow the funds to organizations providing real benefits in research, service and treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation’s (EJAF) Oscar Viewing Party

EJAF’s Oscar Viewing Party is the glitziest of AIDS-fundraising events with celebrities like Lady Gaga, Chris Colfer, Russell Simmons, and Taylor Swift attending. Last year, the event raised $5.1 million for the fight against AIDS. Where does that money go? According to the EJAF, in 2014 the money went to the following organizations by way of these grants:

Renewal Grants: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, $50,000; Clinton Health Access Initiatives, $80,000; Friends in Deed, $50,000; Housing Works, $50,000; Kaiser Family Foundation, $150,000; Treatment Action Group, $150,000.

New Grants: National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, $60,000.

National LGBTQ Community Initiative Awards: Human Rights Campaign, $300,000; Transgender Law Center, $200,000; National Black Justice Coalition, $100,000; Point Foundation, $100,000.

Regional LGBTQ Community Initiative Awards: Sylvia Rivera Law Project, $75,000; Women with a Vision, $100,000.

These organizations help people living with HIV/AIDS in a variety of ways, from housing to treatment to legal issues. As much fun as it is to see the glitzy red-carpet photos afterwards, the real star of the night is the good that comes of it. You can learn more about the work of the EJAF and contribute at

Cycle for the Cause: The Northeast AIDS Ride

New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center offers a host of services that help people living with HIV/AIDS — including essential mental health services and prevention programs for both youth and adults.

Each year, September brings Cycle for the Cause: The Northeast AIDS Ride — a major fundraiser that supports the work of The Center. It’s a 275-mile bike ride that (usually) wends its way from Boston to New York City. Each rider must raise at least $2,750 and each crew member must raise at least $500.

Some recognizable names get in on the act here, too — though it takes significantly more effort than showing up in a nice gown or tux. SiriusXM radio personality Romaine Patterson of the “Derek and Romaine” show has participated in the ride and raised over $100,000 with her team. According to Steve Bratton, Cycle for the Cause ride coordinator, “Having Romaine involved with Cycle for the Cause was amazing. She was able to talk about the Ride on her national Sirius radio show. This means that Cycle for the Cause, HIV/AIDS and The Center were mentioned in homes all over the country. We couldn’t have done that outreach on our own. Her amazing fans have donated thousands to the Ride and some of them have participated. Her show has also saved lives of LGBT people all over the country.”

I’ve participated in Cycle for the Cause each year since 2009, and it is amazing. At the closing ceremonies, celebrities like Chely Wright and Olympia Dukakis have shown up to lend support. In 2014 the Ride raised a whopping $782,849, which will help fund the more than $2 million in HIV and AIDS services that the Center offers annually. Learn how you can help at

By Scott A. Kramer, LCSW

Last modified: June 22, 2017