If you represent a large academic medical center, medical college, or an institution with a deep medical research enterprise, the recently announced 21st Century Cures Act could offer you positive philanthropic positioning. Passed by overwhelming bipartisan support, the act allocated $4.8 billion toward the National Institutes for Health (NIH) budget, with nearly $4 billion for research.

Of course, this funding is NIH-based, not philanthropic. However, the incredible size and scope of the funds to be granted will skyrocket medical science to the top of the national agenda—where your institution can build on this momentum. Philanthropy could even position your scientists to maximize access to the 21st Century Cure funding.

You probably already engage donors in giving for bridge funding—before and after NIH grants—and to add resources to scientific investigations either not fully funded by NIH or perhaps too early in the discovery process to merit NIH funding. Benefactors often want to know if your scientists are well funded by NIH, how much they have tried for grants, and what their plans are for continued NIH funding. Donors understand the need for philanthropy combined with NIH, tech transfer, licensing etc., and need to be assured you are working all possible sources effectively. Knowing you are reaching outside of philanthropic dollars can help propel increased funding from these savvy benefactors.

Why not build a compelling philanthropic narrative around the 21st Century Cures Act’s resounding themes?

  • The “Cancer Moonshot”
  • The BRAIN Initiative (neurotechnology)
  • Precision Medicine Initiative (genomics)
  • Mental Health Services
  • Opioid Addiction

If your hospital or medical school is already a leader in one or more of these sectors, this is the time to remind your benefactors that your scientists can play major roles in finding cures and advancing medical science at this pivotal time for our nation. Tie your research plans and projects to the 21st Century Cures themes, giving them even more urgency and currency. Emphasize ways you will accelerate discovery, find cures, and offer new hope to patients and families now more than ever.

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

—Louis Pasteur

What strategies can you use to leverage philanthropy?

  • Convene a task force of volunteer leaders and major research benefactors to review your top research initiatives, encourage scientists to move boldly, and look at ways to maximize private funding related to the 21st Century Cures Act’s focus areas.
  • Refresh the philanthropic case for support for one or more of the Act’s target areas, outlining your institution’s related research accomplishments and plans for leveraging expanded NIH support.
  • Alert current and previous donors whose designations match the Act’s themes, letting them know your plans to access enhanced NIH funds and do more to advance the scientific fields they care about. Let donors know their support is making this possible (staging positively for future asks).
  • As grants from the 21s Century Cures Act are received, celebrate the science with your donor community for advantageous philanthropic positioning.

These are just some of the ways you might try seizing the philanthropic opportunity afforded by the 21st Century Cures Act to medical and scientific enterprises. Now is the time! BWF would be happy to partner with you to explore avenues that benefit your institution. Contact us today. Together, we transform philanthropy.

BWF Client Advisory originally published February 15, 2017

Copyright ©  2017 Bentz Whaley Flessner and Associate, Inc.

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