[UPDATEs BELOW] The AIDS Walk New York has reportedly raised over $150 million since its inception in 1986, but all that cash might not be going directly to the HIV programs and services the walk says it supports; instead, a significant portion of the walk's annual donations is spent on paying rent for the organization running it.
According to DNAinfo, the non-profit Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) organization expects to rake in about $11.4 million in donations from the walk this year, but only $374,000 of that will go towards the AIDS programs the walk says it supports. Instead, $4.2 million will be put towards fundraising costs, a large chunk will go to the organization's finance department and informational systems and the CEO's and COO's offices will respectively pocket about $435,500 and $293,700. Oh, and $4.6 million will cover rent and building fees for the GMHC's new, very expensive Chelsea headquarters. Which, by the way, is largely unoccupied. "When you donate to the AIDS Walk, you think that you're funding meals, mental health, job training and legal services," a GMHC source told the website."In fact, your donation is used to pay rent on empty space."
To be sure, the GMHC isn't the only non-profit organization whose donation allotment percentages have been called into question—charities like the American Red Cross have been criticized for funneling money towards fundraising and administrative fees, too. But the fact that so much money goes towards rent raises some questions; apparently, higher-ups at the GMHC had pushed for the non-profit to relocate to the 165,000-square-foot, $389,000-a-month main office in 2011, even though the organization was reportedly starting to lose money.
The GMHC has been around in some form or another since 1981 and is considered the country's leading AIDS-fighting organization; though the AIDS Walk is its most visible donation source, government grants and other federally-sponsored cash help drive its HIV and AIDS-fighting and advocacy programs. The organization has not yet responded to our requests for comment; we'll update if and when we hear back.
Update 1:58 p.m.: GMHC spokeswoman Krishna Stone tells us the financial information given to DNAinfo is "grossly inaccurate." The organization will be putting out an official statement later today.
Update 4:14 p.m.: The GMHC sent us the following statement: "GMHC was dismayed by the woefully inaccurate DNAInfo story today, with incorrect numbers and misleading interpretations. 88% of all GMHC funds support programming, that is an audited fact."
They plan to send out a longer statement with financials tomorrow.