Skip to Content

Directing Where Your Donation Dollars Should Go!

After writing my previous post, Cancer Research Deserves A Fair Share of the “Pie”!, I remembered reading about the mysterious  man from Iowa and his recent generous ($100 million to be exact) donation to Mayo Clinic. This was the largest outright monetary gift in Mayo Clinic’s history. Recollecting about this donation made me consider a few things. First of all, a little background on this guy.

The man’s name is Richard O. Jacobson. He founded one of the largest privately owned public warehouse companies in the United States, headquartered in Des Moines, IA.  He is a long-term patient of Mayo himself, although for what I do not know. He is a true philanthropist, with an extensive list of charities and causes he supports.

In addition to making this substantial donation, he specifically dictated where he wanted his dollars to go. I imagine he made it mandatory. As they say, “money talks.”

Obviously, most of us are not giving $100 million in donations to our favorite organizations. Mine tend to be in the under $50 category. Probably none of us will get a building named after us like he will. However, once again, the point I want to make is anyone should be able to designate where they would like their donated dollars to be spent. If we all did this, even our comparatively tiny donations (and accompanying requests about where we would like our dollars spent), would count up.

Mr. Jacobson’s generous donation will be used on a new 110,000 square foot facility to be built at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester, MN location. The new facility will house Mayo’s new Proton Beam Therapy Program. $100 million will still not be enough as the new facility will cost $400 million. They are looking for more donations. (Opportunity is here for the big cancer fundraising organizations!)

The Proton Beam Therapy Program is part of an advanced high intensity-modulated technology known as pencil beam scanning. With my limited understanding, I believe this simply means this procedure is far more precise, able to better target a tumor and deliver a higher therapeutic dose of radiation. Basically, it pinpoints tumors more accurately, so therefore more radiation can be given with significantly less damage to surrounding organs and tissue. This is especially important for children with cancer. Their bodies and organs are smaller, so it’s harder to pinpoint such treatments. It would also mean big improvement for breast cancer radiation treatment, as well as prostate radiation treatment, and many others as well.

This brings me to my second reason for this post. There are new and better treatments available such as this one, but like so many times money, or the lack thereof, stands in the way. I would be interested to learn if some of our favorite cancer fund raising organizations are donating to stuff like this?? I hope they are.

The third point I want to make is I applaud the mission of Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center, which by the way, has three locations. In addition to the Rochester location, they also have sites in Phoenix, AZ and Jacksonville, FA.

What I admire is that they strive to serve a diverse cancer patient population.

But this is the best part –  With their world-renowned physicians and scientists, they focus on the FULL SPECTRUM of cancer RESEARCH, as well as improving treatment for all patients, in order to lessen the burden of cancer on society.  

Gotta love that.

Hats off to Mr. Jacobson for making such a generous contribution and for stating where he wanted his money spent. I think he did OK. After research, better treatment is right up there on my list of priorities for how to spend “cancer dollars.”

After all you need good treatment while you wait for that cure.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. Keep donating and keep specifying where you want your dollars spent. The size of your donations doesn’t matter, but where it’s spent does. Don’t be afraid to direct where you want YOUR DOLLARS spent!

After all, you work hard for the money too. I think that’s even a famous song!!

What is your top priority when you give to any organization?

Do you think charities “waste” too much money?

Richard O. Jacobson

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN


Tuesday 22nd of February 2011

I have a friend going through tests right now in Mayo. She found out she does not have MS just this week! She has been taking shots and drugs for that for 9 years! She does have lukemia. They will tell her by the end of this week the treatment plan they recommend. Mayo is a terrific place. Thanks for the uplifting post. Yes, I will be more direct in my wishes for how my donation is used. Thank you for the suggestion.


Tuesday 22nd of February 2011

Betty, I'm glad your friend got some good news about the MS anyway. I hope they come up with an effective treatment plan for her lukemia. Good to hear you will be direct in your wishes, I think we should all try that approach. It can't hurt to try.


Saturday 19th of February 2011

Great post, that Mr. Jacobson must be a truly remarkable human being. and i think you are right on the money, everyone should be able to choose where her/his donation go, no matter how much money it is.


Tuesday 22nd of February 2011

Ron, I agree! Thanks for commenting.


Saturday 19th of February 2011

Nancy- Great post! I learned much about the Mayo Clinic, an institution I highly respect, and its largest donor to date, a very generous man, indeed.

My top priority in giving to any organization is to make sure the maximum amount I give goes to the cause itself and not to the people administering it.

Some charities do waste money, no doubt, but I believe at least some exercise caution in spending donated money. They are answerable not only to the donors, but also to the Board Officers and Directors, the government (in the case of illegal doings), and the general public. That's an awesome responsibility in my book.

Keep up the good work! Jan


Tuesday 22nd of February 2011

Jan, Thank you for taking time to comment on this. As you point out, many charities are conscientious about how and where they spend their dollars. Your top priority is a good one.


Friday 18th of February 2011

Yes, organizations, including charities, waste money. Definitely.

Most of my donated time and money is given to a local dog rescue. I prefer to donate my time because I do not always agree with where the money is spent (keeping an aggressive dog in boarding for years on end, for example, instead of hiring a decent trainer).

When I do donate money, it is usually when a specific dog needs medical care or when a specific dog needs somewhere to stay in order to avoid euthanasia at the pound. I definitely need to know where my money is going, even when I give to groups I support.

I just got back from the grocery store where they were asking every shopper to donate a dollar to a group, can't even remember the group. I didn't donate. I would've been more likely to donate had I known specifically where my money would be going. I'm more likely to donate for specific individuals, like through benefit dinners.

My weakness, though, is Girl Scout cookies. I buy a box every time I see a table set up and some girl and her mom selling cookies. I realize the girl scout only gets about 30 cents per box out of the $4, but I still buy my thin mints.


Saturday 19th of February 2011

Lindsay, Good idea to donate your time instead of money when that is possible. Sounds like you are smart about where and how you donate. Good for you. As for the cookies, I guess once a Girl Scout always a Girl Scout! They should get more $ per box, but... Those thin mints are pretty good!

Ginny Marie @ Lemon Drop Pie

Friday 18th of February 2011

What an interesting story! I hope the Mayo Clinic is able to raise more money for that therapy program. It sounds like it is well worth it and much needed!


Saturday 19th of February 2011

Ginny, I agree! Sounds like a great improvement in radiation treatment. Thanks for commenting!

%d bloggers like this: