The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Development Strategy

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a state of the art research facility with a patient focus and an ultimate goal of eradicating cancer. This goal comes with a tremendous and ever increasing price tag. Finding a cure for cancer may be the primary challenge but financing this endeavor remains the other. Current financing leaves approximately 20% of the institute’s expenses at the mercy of fund raising efforts coordinated by the Development Office. Susan Paresky, Chief Development Officer for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute had her work cut out for her.

Not only did the goals of the organization require continuously increasing financing but she also faced the challenge of convincing generous contributors to allow for less restrictive donations. When taking into consideration the three different fund raising opportunities available to Dana-Farber it would be the $1 million from the major medical products company that has the best advantages for the institution. Although this generous donation has some restrictions, it also had additional added value that neither of the other two options offered.

The diagnostic testing, developed by this company, could easily be viewed as a bonus attached to this million dollar contribution. This opportunity’s focus mirrored the institute’s mission of “dedicated to discovery”. This company was also in the business of cancer research. Additionally, the added value of a funded researcher and rights to the intellectual property identified by this position make this seem like a very lucrative offer. The unrestricted $1 million gift from the food company seemed like a very tempting offer however, its association with the cigarette business was certainly a recipe for disaster.

Currently the Dana-Farber Institute had the brand asset of an emotional connection with its superior reputation. Association with a donor whose business is perceived with negative association may result in the reversal of willingness to contribute from existing and future contributors. Similarly, association with an Asian car manufacturer contributes no additional benefit to the institute and may even make Dana-Farber’s reputation vulnerable in the event of product malfunction or sub-standard quality.

The current portfolio of fundraising programs has a multitude of benefits and may present opportunities for expansion. Individual Major Gifts – This fundraising effort is very labor intensive, sometimes taking over two years to cultivate a donation. Networking is by far the most effective avenue enabling the solicitor to engage and educate the potential donor of the institute’s mission. I would recommend the additional use of social networking. Corporate/Foundations Grants – Corporations mutually benefit from the fundraising efforts in the case of department-driven research and corporate philanthropy.

Research suggests that 76% of consumers support cause marketing by switching brands and/or retailers. Currently, the majority of cause marketing fundraising for the Dana-Farber Institute is through The Jimmy Fund. It would seem realistic to partner with many more corporations than ones like Gillette and BankBoston as Dana-Farber, a leader in cancer research. It would be logical for instance purchase a bra, designed and manufactured by Playtex, Bali or Hanes if through that purchase, a contribution to breast cancer research is made.

A purchase of Crest toothpaste would seem far more likely if Proctor and Gamble agreed to a donation towards oral cancer research. The partnering opportunities seem endless. Planned – The tax benefits of planned giving are substantial. With demographers focused on the opportunities resulting from the baby boomer population reaching retirement, Dana-Farber is wise to position themselves to acquire market share. Annual – The use of a direct marketing firm is advised if the return on investment is positive.

It appears that 44% of the annual gift fund in 1999 was through the efforts of The Jimmy Fund. I would recommend an online advertising strategy for this type of giving for both The Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber suspecting increased productivity and profitability. The Jimmy Fund – Touting a 96% name recognition, this organization has brand identity and equity. Of the eight core programs, it would be advisable to allow the less lucrative programs to just sustain and not grow.

In light of the Pan Mass Challenge’s success, growth should be cultivated and resources should be allocated to its growth. The Marathon Challenge appears to attract an audience who may be in a lower income bracket. Is a possible strategy to participate in other city’s marathons? The New York Marathon, for instance, most probably attracts a crowd from a higher income bracket. Lastly, could the growing number of participants in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk help inspire more such walks perhaps throughout all of New England?

Susan Paresky would be wise to leverage the brand equity associated with the Jimmy Fund. Individuals with an emotional connection to the Jimmy Fund or to the goal of finding a cure for cancer can be utilized to promote through networking. A website could be utilized to not only educate but also accelerate gift giving. Cleverly crafted web promotions could gently coax a generous donor into unrestricted donations for the greater cause of curing cancer rather than specifically targeting a particular type of the disease.

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