Attendance at the Amfar benefit last night at Cipriani Wall Street showed the organization’s base of support in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries.
Woody Allen, nominated for several Academy Awards for “Midnight in Paris,” stuck close to Mathilde Krim, founding chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
Rocker Debbie Harry sat with John Demsey, who oversees the M.A.C. Viva Glam brand, the event’s presenting sponsor.
And in the center of the room -- the prime spot for taking in the performances by Janelle Monae and Theophilus London -- were the folks from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), whose partners last year gave $1 million to the organization.
The donations followed a speech at Goldman by Kevin Frost, Amfar’s chief executive officer.
“I invited Kevin to come to the trading floor, right at market close,” Marty Chavez, a Goldman Sachs partner, said. “I told him we had an ADD crowd, to use as many numbers as possible and that he only had 15 minutes.”
Chavez, an Amfar board member, then followed with “the ask,” sending an e-mail with a link to the company’s intranet.
“It took you to the page where you put in the amount you want to give,” Chavez said. “It was the easiest thing.”
Partners made their donations through Goldman Sachs Gives, the firm’s donor-advised fund. As Chavez explained, Goldman Sachs partners receive an allocation to direct to Goldman Sachs Gives.
“You can’t direct it to just anything,” Chavez said. The fund has four focus areas: honoring service and veterans; building and stabilizing communities (under which the Amfar donation fell); increasing educational opportunities; and creating jobs and economic growth.
Frost recalled the talk.
“Marty gave me 15 minutes to tell people what I believe in,” he said. “I believe with the right investments, and the right political will, we can cure AIDS in our lifetime. It’s not a pipe dream, it’s what the science says.”
Frost noted that a research grant costs $150,000.
“Right now we only fund half of what scores as fundable,” Frost said. “So we’re leaving 50 percent on the shelf.”
Colleen Foster, a Goldman Sachs partner, was one of the people on the trading floor that afternoon.
“We are exposed to many world-class organizations,” Foster said. “Amfar was the most compelling, inspiring presentation I attended. You really got a sense of the impact. And they were very approachable, very real.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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