John Damonti, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: Cancer (Central and Eastern Europe); hepatitis (Asia); HIV/AIDS (Africa)

CONTACT: john.damonti@bms.com, 800-736-0003

IP TAKE: Concentrating on disease prevention and eradication efforts in specific regions of the world, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is particular about what it funds and the level of operational capacity it expects from grantees. Leading the foundation's work is Damonti, a career executive at the intersection of big business and global philanthropy. He is big on data, and expects the grantees his team funds to be metrics-focused as well.

PROFILE: Like many corporate foundation executives, John Damonti has job titles and responsibilities on both the business and charitable sides of his employer's operations. At the multi-national pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, Damonti is the Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy, where he strategizes on how the company that employs him can best align its corporate mission with philanthropic causes. But at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, a purely charitable endeavor that makes about $28 million in grants each year, Damonti is the President, leading the foundation's work and its support for health-related projects around the world.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has an impressive domestic portfolio, making substantial investments in reducing health disaparities for patients affected by severe mental illness and type 2 diabetes in the United States. Internationally, the foundation has sizable operations as well, and particularly concentrates on three specific program areas: cancer in Europe, hepatitis in Asia, and HIV/AIDS in Africa. We'll outline Bristol-Myers Squibb's giving priorities within these programs as follows.

Cancer in Europe: Cancer is a problem in Central and Eastern Europe. Rates of the disease are high, and treatment resources are inadequate. In the region, Bristol Myers-Squibb is focused on training and empowering nurses, and in fostering collaboration among governmental and civil society actors that play a role in healthcare policy and the allocation of cancer prevention and treatment services.

Hepatitis in Asia: Through a program it refers to as Delivering Hope, the Bristol Myers-Squibb Foundation makes grants to NGOs working to combat and reduce the incidence of hepatitis B and C infections throughout Asia. The foundation looks for projects that strengthen the capacity of healthcare workers, spread general awareness about hepatitis, and contribute to more effective health policies in the region.

HIV/AIDS in Africa: Over the last decade or so, Bristol Myers-Squibb, through its Secure the Future initiative, has put more than $150 million into HIV/AIDS work in 22 African countries. The foundation is most interested in projects that develop community-based services, improve treatment for children, address challenges related to HIV/tuberculosis co-infections, empower pharmacists to treat HIV/AIDS, and build healthcare infrastructure generally.

Damonti has spent his career at the intersection of global philanthropy and corporate strategy. Prior to joining the team at Bristol Myers-Squibb, Damonti was Manager of Contributions and Community Relations for Mutual of New York; Director of the Primerica Foundation (now part of Citigroup); and Director of the Primerica Foundation (now part of Citigroup). And Damonti sits on, or has sat on, a number of boards for charities doing disease prevention and health work abroad, including Malaria No More and Family Health International. He got his undergraduate degree in psychology at Bowling Green State University and a Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University.

At Bristol-Myers Squibb, Damonti brings a business investor's sensibility to grantmaking. Damonti likes numbers, data, measurable results, and impacts that are easy to see. He also likes grantees that already know what they're doing. Organizations that apply for Bristol-Myers Squibb funding should not submit a simple letter of inquiry or incomplete proposal, with the hope that the foundation will guide them through the grant application process. Rather, Bristol-Myers Squibb only wants grant proposals that are detailed and complete, supported by legal and financial documentation.

Fortunately for would-be grantees, Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of the most transparent funders in the global disease prevention game. Any non-profit organization, whether incorporated in the United States or abroad, can apply for funding at any time, provided said organization's work aligns with Bristol Myers-Squibb's stated funding priorities. Even better for would-be grantees who routinely operate under externally imposed time constraints, Bristol-Myers Squibb gets back to applicants on the status of their grant application within eight weeks of receiving it.

For a clearer picture of what Damonti and his team actually fund, here's a list of recent investments Bristol Myers-Squibb has made in the area of global disease prevention.

  • $49,555 to the Ghana Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS.
  • $71,105 to the Romanian Cancer Society.
  • $496,761 to the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver.