The state’s top three HIV charities -“ the AIDS Trust of Australia, the AIDS Council of NSW and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation -“ have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to ease competition for the HIV charity dollar.

Traditionally, HIV fundraising has been based on a delicate (and largely unspoken) balance of events, projects, understandings and individuals: a balance made even more fine by the fact that the AIDS Trust has occasionally been cast in the role of benefactor to the other two organisations.

This state of delicate balance has occasionally ruptured. Last year, a row broke out between the AIDS Trust of Australia and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation over the appearance on Oxford Street of paid and volunteer collectors for the AIDS Trust’s Kids With AIDS project -“ an initiative that some saw as competing with collectors for BGF.

However, under the terms of the MOU -“ in development for several months and signed just before Christmas -“ the three charity groups have agreed not to pursue fundraising activities in competition with one another in terms of scheduling, creative content, concepts and branding.

Executive director of BGF, Georgina Harman, said that all three signatories to the MOU had different roles, but that each organisation needs to raise money, recruit volunteers and seek corporate support to continue that work and there’s a considerable overlap in the communities and businesses that help.

The agreement addresses the need for cooperation and mutual respect for one another’s fundraising activities. The more we understand one another and avoid potential conflict the better it is for those that support us and those who rely on us for services, Harman said.

AIDS Council of NSW president Adrian Lovney said that ACON, BGF and the AIDS Trust had contributed to each other’s events and activities over many years.

But many of these broad partnerships exist as informal agreements or in people’s memories. The MOU clarifies these, Lovney said. Our activities during AIDS Awareness Week are a good example of how we can work more closely, with AIDS Trust volunteers joining ACON volunteers to sell red ribbons.

Terry Trethowan, executive director of the AIDS Trust, said that all three groups continue to benefit from the generosity of the Australian community.

One challenge facing groups like ACON, BGF and the Trust is to make sure that we not only minimise the potential for duplication of effort but also vigorously pursue ways to work together. The MOU is an important step in that direction, Trethowan said.

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