Two Lessons From a Big Give to San Antonio Children's Hospital

Former Valero CEO Bill Klesse is giving big to the San Antonio Children’s Hospital through both the Valero Energy Foundation and through the Klesse Foundation, which he runs with his wife, Margie. The sum total of both gifts comes in at $4 million dollars.  

Three million of this will go to the hospital’s pediatric hematology/oncology outpatient center. The center uses the latest technology, including newly added bone marrow transplant equipment, to treat children and adolescents suffering from cancer and blood disorders. The center treats more than 6,000 children annually.

Another $1 million will go to the neonatal intensive care unit to help pay for the cost of care for over 700 premature babies annually. As it turns out, the Klesses are grandparents to a premature granddaughter, so they have a more personal appreciation for the value of neonatal intensive care medicine.

“We are very pleased that our family’s foundation will be used for the NICU,” Bill Klesse said in a recent interview. “The care (our granddaughter) received was extremely important to her well-being, and we wanted to make sure that level of care was available here.”

Which brings us to lesson one from this gift: Health giving may be the most personal area of philanthropy. That's true when it comes to donors funding research to cure diseases that afflict loved ones or themselves; it's also true in regard to gifts to hospitals, as donors often feel immensely grateful to institutions that were there in a time of need.

Lesson two is that energy companies are loaded these days amid a boom in fracking and oil production, and this money has an expanded footprint in a number of giving areas. If you're in energy countrywhich includes more of America than ever, you should be paying close attention to the giving of both energy companies and their executives. 

The Valero Energy Foundation is a great case in point. It contributes about $20 million per year to the San Antonio communities surrounding its corporate home offices. It also hosts a golf open that has raised a combined $9 million for children’s charities and Valero CEO Joe Gorder announced recently that it is getting close to reaching its overall giving milestone of $100 million. Since the golf open’s title sponsorship began in 2002, it's helped raise $90.5 million.    

Many corporate funders gravitate toward uncontroversial areas of giving, and healthcare definitely fits this bill. Also, because energy companies have faced a lot of criticism for possible negative health effects of their drilling and transportation activities, they have an added incentive to give in the healthcare area. 

So pitch away to these folks!