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I just received a solicitation from the CEO of amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research) Kevin Frost asking for a donation to support a "grassroots advocacy effort" to fight the Congressional efforts to curtail syringe exchange programs. This is an important cause and I fully support their efforts.

But in these days of tightening budgets (here at home and throughout the country) whenever I get this sort of request I check into how much the top executives at the organization are pulling in.  My feeling is that as people as HIV/AIDS here in California are losing their ADAP benefits which pay for their life-saving medication, some of these individuals might be helped by existing organizations such as amfAR if they have the means to do so.

After checking into the amfAR financials I was truly astounded.

Here is my response I sent back to Kevin:


I think your organization does good work and this effort is the right thing to do.  

However when I receive solicitations for support such as this I have been checking out how much the top executives make at the organization asking for money.  In checking out the latest IRS Form 990 I see that the Vice Chairman of amfAR Jerome Radwin received $384,658 in total compensation and you received $218,258.  So for each day Jerome takes home $1,479 and you take home $839 and at the same time in California ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs are being cut.  

My suggestion is that you bring your top exec compensation in line with what is appropriate (not just what others in similar organizations make because many of them are bringing in huge paydays as well) before asking the rest of us to support these kinds of worthwhile activities.  How about if you ask Jerome to pay for the $50,000 for this important campaign?  Even then he would be taking home $1,287 each day – which would be an incredible amount to any individual who is going to be losing the APAD support here in CA.


Is $1,479 each day too much to pay Mr. Radwin?  Is $839 per day too much for Mr. Frost to earn?  If you compare it to other top execs for HIV/AIDS related organizations, it is in the ballpark.

Craig Thompson at AIDS Project LA makes $936/day ($243,483/year)
Mark Cloutier at SF AIDS Foundation makes $911/day ($236,797/year)
David Brinkman at the Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs makes $736/day ($191,302/year)
John Gale of Project Angel Food in LA makes $686/day ($178,289/year)
Tom Nolan of Project Open Hand in SF makes $955/day ($248,200/year)

These are organizations here in California, and my numbers come from the latest IRS Form 990 I could find, so the names and numbers may be different these days.  I do not claim to be an expert on reading IRS forms, so if I am in error I apologize in advance. If these groups have made reductions because of the recent economy, then they should be applauded for that effort, but I haven’t seen anything in the news lately.

If you want to see more information on the top pay of the leaders of LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations, the Washington Blade put together an interesting comparison at:

Here’s my point.  

These are tough times. These are great organizations doing incredible work. But if they feel that their cause is important enough I think the people running these non-profits should be willing to step up to the plate and chip in some of the money they now earn.  That is only fair to the people who donate to these groups and to the people they are set up to serve.

Originally posted to tellbarackdotorg on Wed Jul 15, 2009 at 04:11 PM PDT.

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