Alliance magazine: An interview with Annie Lennox and Mitch Besser


Alliance magazine

Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox

“I decided that this was an issue I wanted to get involved with. I wanted to contribute my own voice to creating a bigger platform, in any way that I could,” says Annie Lennox of her reaction to a speech by Nelson Mandela on HIV/AIDS and its effect on women and children in South Africa.

At the UBS Global Philanthropy Forum, held in Switzerland in November 2012, philanthropists and social investors from around the globe gathered to discuss philanthropic ideas and formulate partnerships. Among those in attendance were singer-songwriter, activist and philanthropist Annie Lennox and her husband Dr Mitchell Besser, founder of mothers2mothers.

Mitch Besser

Mitch Besser

Alliance magazine spoke to them about their experiences within the philanthropy sector and specifically what they each gained from the UBS Forum. In the interview, Lennox discusses her relationship with the projects she supports and the motivations that led her to become active in her specific area of interest, combatting HIV/AIDS.

“...Listening to [Nelson Mandela], I started to understand things differently. I had thought, like many people in the West, that HIV/AIDS was a problem under control; there were treatments available. However, in South Africa, and in other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, people weren’t receiving these treatments. The virus was wiping people out in numbers you cannot even begin to imagine. Once I started to realize how this was affecting women and children, it went very deep with me, as a woman and a mother myself. I was outraged, angry, ashamed that I didn’t know more about it and that the international community wasn’t doing more to raise the profile of this issue…

…Most of the organizations we support have some kind of connection to each other, some kind of continuity or thread. I like to know that they’re going to be an investment, not just a bottomless pit. Ideally, I like to see them for myself. I would encourage any philanthropist to actually see the projects themselves and meet the people that are running them and have a sense of where they’re going – and keep a relationship going. I think that’s important. What’s more valuable to an organization? You can give them a donation for six months or a year, but if you can give them something that will last for maybe three, you’ve got a seed that will grow and maybe will take them on to the next stage…Read more >

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Tagged in: annie lennox HIV/AIDS philanthropy

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