Meeting Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King
In 2004, I had the honor of meeting Elton John and Billie Jean King at the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) annual fundraiser – Smash Hits.
Elton John created the Foundation over 25 years ago, in the United States in 1992 and the United Kingdom in ’93, in response to the urgent need for philanthropic support to address the global AIDS crisis and provide assistance to people living with or dying of AIDS. Through hard work and with the help of our generous friends and supporters, the two foundations together have raised more than $350 million over the past 24 years.
Today, the Foundation continues to pursue the mandate Elton set forth over 25 years ago. Although tremendous scientific progress has been achieved in HIV prevention and treatment, universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, and health care continues to be a concern, and our mission remains the same – to fight for the dignity and well-being of every person, combat stigma, prevent HIV infections, ensure universal HIV treatment for all who need it, and pressure governments to end AIDS. The U.S. foundation focuses its efforts on programs in the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean and was recently recognized by Funders for LGBTQ Issues as the largest funder of LGBTQ health programs in the nation and by Funders Concerned About AIDS as the largest HIV funder of programs for transgender people.
For eleven consecutive years, EJAF’s U.S. foundation has been recognized as a four-star charity – the very highest rating – by Charity Navigator, indicating the Foundation consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way and adheres to good governance and other best practices that promote and ensure ethical and transparent business dealings. EJAF’s strong financial health and dynamic and flexible grant-making philosophy position the organization ideally to respond quickly to medical breakthroughs and innovation, to adjust its grantmaking priorities to address the needs of the ever-shifting demographics of this global epidemic, and to advocate for policies that protect and strengthen the health and rights of people affected by HIV/AIDS.