by Collin Lessing, JVA Marketing/Communications Coordinator

The Nuggets and the Avalanche weren’t the only hot tickets at the Pepsi Center this week. Elton John and Billy Joel were in town on Monday night and performed in front of a sold-out crowd. The pop music legends played dueling pianos and provided guest vocals on each other’s classic hits.

As their music echoed along Nonprofit Street, we were reminded about Elton John’s legacy of philanthropy and the progress that has come along with it.

In 1992, Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) after watching close friends Freddie Mercury and Ryan White–a teenage boy who was expelled from his school in 1986 simply because of his illness–succumb to AIDS. At a time when HIV/AIDS was stigmatized and vastly misunderstood by the public, Elton John was spreading awareness and helping correct people’s misconceptions.

I can remember being a young boy in 1992, watching Elton John performing at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert on television. The previous year, Magic Johnson had retired from the NBA following the announcement that he was HIV positive. Whether people liked it or not, society was forced to start thinking and talking about AIDS—and Elton John and his foundation were right there to help people understand.

Fast-forward 18 years later and EJAF is still going strong. According the EJAF Web site, the foundation has raised more than $150 million and leveraged more than $315 million to support HIV/AIDS prevention and service programs in 55 countries around the globe.

EJAF notes that a critical element of its success is strategic evaluation. According to the Web site, EJAF regularly evaluates its grant-making priorities within the context of the ever-changing challenges and needs of the evolving HIV/AIDS epidemic. Evaluation has resonated with donors, resulting in 140% increase in grantmaking over the last two years. At a time when most foundations are giving less, EJAF has found a way to give more and continue to build upon its legacy of progress.

Ready to create a “culture of evaluation” in your organization? On March 30 and 31, JVA Consulting will offer Evaluation Intensive. This two-day workshop will give you the tools you need to implement program evaluation in your organization along with the understanding of how evaluation can help your organization succeed and flourish. To learn more and to register, click here.