SFAF plans to raise $7.9M
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation's plan for a health and wellness center for gay and bisexual men located in the Castro is moving forward, but the agency must raise significant funds while, at the same time, it figures out how to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars after it loses the AIDS Walk next year.
All told, SFAF expects to raise $7.9 million through a fundraising campaign, CEO Neil Giuliano recently told the Bay Area Reporter editorial board. That money would be used to renovate 10,000 square feet at 474 Castro Street that will integrate three of its programs – Stonewall Project, Magnet, and the Stop AIDS Project – as well as expand services.
Giuliano acknowledged that the fundraising campaign would be a challenge, but said consultants have indicated SFAF would ultimately be successful.
"It'll probably be a little rough," Giuliano said in a February 1 interview. "We're going to need a lot of community support to get it done."
The agency is currently in the "silent" phase of the fundraising campaign in which it hopes to raise $3 million to $3.5 million, Giuliano said. He said they are not calling it a capital campaign because the funds will be used for more than just construction costs. The funds are needed for build out of the site, which has housed a video rental store that is going out of business, as well as lease payments over the next decade. The larger storefront is costing SFAF upwards of $170,000 more a year in rent than the three current sites that now house its programs in the Castro. Giuliano said the new center would be open by the end of October.
The larger space will allow for more counselors and more HIV testing services, he said, as well as bring together services under one roof.
SFAF's donor pyramid for the campaign envisions top donors at the $2.5 million and $1.5 million levels. Consultants have indicated that such a campaign could be completed in 36 months, which is what Giuliano prefers, but it may stretch to 48 months.
"I might be optimistic saying it's a three-year campaign," he said.
Giuliano hopes to raise half the money from individuals, corporations, and foundations, with the possibility of government funding. Board members will make "significant" contributions, Giuliano said.
Since Giuliano joined the foundation just over two years ago, the number of board members has gone from seven to 27, he said. Board members include people from corporations such as Gap Inc. and Wells Fargo. Each board member has had to commit to either giving or getting $10,000.
A campaign leadership committee has been reaching out to potential donors.
On top of the capital expenses, SFAF needs to raise money to support increased testing, staff, and other costs.
Giuliano said he's hoping the public part of the fundraising campaign will begin by the end of the year, after the center opens.
Giuliano and James Loduca, vice president of public affairs, said that the center will have areas dedicated to community space and that the center would be welcoming.
Ideas that are proposed include a fireplace with a hearth and they plan to make the center "open, warm, and friendly." There would be naming opportunities as well, which would go toward the campaign revenue.
(Photo: Courtesy Neil Giuliano)
Recouping walk revenue
SFAF – the largest HIV/AIDS nonprofit in the city – was recently left looking to fill a funding gap after MZA Events owner Craig R. Miller asked Project Inform to be the lead agency for the 2014 AIDS Walk, rather than the AIDS foundation, which has long been the partnering agency. While the amount has varied depending on the success of the event, the walk has contributed roughly $650,000 to SFAF's operating budget in recent years.
Giuliano has indicated that Miller's decision isn't hampering his agency's plans in the Castro.
"We know it's going to be hit of $600,000 to $700,000 that we are going to have to make up," he said, adding that he is looking at how to replace that revenue, possibly with another event like the walk or something different.
In terms of the Castro center, moving the three programs to one location is designed to help efforts to cut new HIV infections in San Francisco. SFAF is looking at the effectiveness it can get from having eight exam rooms rather than three, and increasing testing capacity by 50 percent, among other improvements. Giuliano said with the new space, the nonprofit aims to address HIV in older adults, and also looks to do more work with young men of color, such as making sure they're linked to care.
Possible leadership changes
The foundation has also put out a notice to hire an executive director of gay men's health and wellness who would oversee the Castro center. It's unclear what that will mean for the men who currently run the programs: Steve Gibson, director of Magnet; Kyriell Noon, director of HIV prevention services at Stop AIDS; and Michael Siever, director of behavioral health services at Stonewall.
"The programmatic integration and staffing plan is under way, and it's premature to speculate until the process is complete," Loduca said in an email.
The ad, posted in the February 1 Gay Politics Report, said, "SFAF seeks an accomplished and visionary executive leader to help develop and then lead its new 10,000 square foot home for gay/bi men's health and wellness which will house a sexual health clinic, counseling center and a variety of HIV/AIDS/STI prevention, treatment and community programs in the same location for the first time."
The posting refers to the executive director supervising "three program team leaders."
The current businesses at 474 Castro will be out by May 1, and the space will need to be gutted.
"We have to take out everything that's there," Giuliano said. "... down to the shell."
They also plan to rework the bland facade.
"The concept is very much to keep it open, warm, friendly, and inviting," he said. That thinking has been critical to the success of Magnet, he said. That site, about a block away from the new center, features large windows that allow passersby to look directly inside.
Among the possibilities for the new site are an all-glass facade and a two-story fireplace hearth.
One key question the AIDS foundation is trying to answer is what to call the new home for its programs. It is engaging various stakeholders, from staffers and board members to clients and community members, in order to come up with a name.
The gay men's health center Magnet, the substance use reduction program Stonewall Project, and the HIV prevention agency Stop AIDS Project had all been stand alone agencies with their own brand names and identities prior to merging with SFAF.
Matthew S. Bajko contributed to this report.