Interview With Eric Nelson, Executive Director, BEHIV
The name says it all.
Better Existence with HIV does just that: helps those living with HIV live the healthiest lives they can.
Here, BEHIV’s executive director Eric Nelson talks to FundRaising Success about the organization’s history and mission and the creative strategies it uses to raise funds.
FundRaising Success: Tell us a little about BEHIV’s history.
Eric Nelson: With support from volunteers and community leaders, BEHIV was founded in 1989 in response to the growing numbers of people living with HIV in Chicago, Evanston, Ill., and surrounding communities. From the beginning, BEHIV has helped people living with HIV/AIDS cope with medical and emotional crises, as well as provided support to their partners, spouses, family members and friends. With the advent of life-prolonging medications during the 1990s, the focus of the agency has expanded to include helping clients manage their medication regimens, return to work, expand their social networks and lead healthy lives. BEHIV remains a leader in Chicago and the suburbs in fighting the spread of HIV by conducting HIV testing and counseling, educating youth, and reaching out to persons at risk for HIV.
FS: How does BEHIV fund its mission?
EN: BEHIV funds its mission through a combination of government contracts and grants to provide services (case management, housing, prevention activities), as well as support from corporations, foundations and individuals, through grants, special events and individual giving.
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned?
EN: BEHIV faces the same challenge that many AIDS service organizations face — waning public interest and a lack of urgency. With pharmaceutical advances, AIDS is seen as a “manageable” condition that no longer requires immediate action. Additionally, AIDS in developing parts of the world draws more attention than do sufferers in the United States.