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N&V: Do you think there's some synergy there for fundraising among the different Scripps institutions?

Colwell: Well, I think it helps from the fundraising standpoint because our donors—whether they be individuals or corporations or foundations—have interests that are multidimensional and across the board, across the spectrum. I guess you might say we have a little something for everyone. If we have an individual who's interested in the research component, we have one of the world's finest biomedical research institutions. If the interest is in direct patient care, we offer programs and services of the highest quality. If they're interested in technology, we are on the cutting edge. So there's a synergy from the standpoint that we appeal to a broad audience. In terms of the synergy among our fundraising efforts... I don't know. Scripps Chula Vista Hospital is going to have a different constituency than TSRI. And TSRI's going to have a different constituency than Scripps Hospital in Encinitas. So I don't know that there are any real synergies from a functional operational standpoint. But Scripps is an institution that has broad appeal.

N&V: In terms of the donor base, the local donor base, do you think that there's competition from other, similar nonprofits?

Colwell: Sure.

N&V: Maybe there's a kind of donor fatigue for someone who is already heavily involved with another nonprofit...

Colwell: Well, you know, it's interesting that you mention donor fatigue. We worry about that all the time. We worry that philanthropy has plateaued and that the pool of private revenue sources is drying up. But statistics don't back that up. I think every year for the last 30 years, the total giving in this country has increased. In fact, I think the giving totals, while they're not out for 2001 yet, will show a dramatic increase in charitable support. It will reflect a shift, perhaps, from some of the more traditional recipients to more of the social-service and crisis-relief efforts. But nonetheless, people continue to give. It's amazing. How many times have you seen an individual provide a significant amount of support to one organization and then two years later go on to support another organization? I think the interests of the philanthropic community in San Diego County are diverse. I don't anticipate that changing. We have many donors to Scripps that support other charitable organizations, as well as other health care organizations. Our real job is to inform our donors and the people who may want to consider Scripps as a potential beneficiary of their philanthropy about what we're doing here, what our mission is, what our vision is. Where do we want Scripps to be five years from now, ten years from now? And what's it going to take to get there? And we want to make people feel proud of Scripps and that it is worthy of an investment.

N&V: Do you see philanthropic dollars going the same way as, say, venture capital dollars, as we are in a recession?

Colwell: Not really. People don't give for taxes. They don't give to get a write-off. That's an added benefit. And it certainly is something they consider in determining what types of assets they contribute, when they contribute them, and how they contribute them. But declines in the market historically have not impacted philanthropy in a significant way. Now, we may see people from some of the newer companies, some of the high-tech companies, the dot-coms—where there was enormous, almost immediate creation of wealth, and then a reduction in that—using this time to recover and to retrench. But, the true givers in this country do not stop giving. They give because they believe in what you're doing, they believe in your vision, and they want to make an investment in that. They don't give because their stocks are up 20 percent this year, or because they need a big write-off.

N&V: You came to Scripps after September 11, but do you think that relief efforts for that crisis will drain donations from other nonprofits?

Colwell: It will in the short run. I did a study on this, and there have been numerous studies, as you might imagine, since September 11 on the impact that this tragedy will have in philanthropic support. If you look back in history at crises—Oklahoma City, the assassination of JFK, Pearl Harbor—what you'll find is that overall charitable giving spiked upwards, between five and seven percent, nationally. There is, temporarily, a shift from the traditional recipients–higher education, health care–to more of the human service, social service providers. But the spike in overall giving, two, three, four, ten years out, doesn't correct. It stays up there. Over time, within a period of two to five years, giving shifts back to the traditional recipients of the majority of philanthropic support, the greatest of which are religious-based organizations, but health care and higher education are right behind. So our short-term prognosis for giving in the health care industry is probably not optimistic, but our long-term outlook is very optimistic.

N&V: So do you think people who never gave before start giving?

Colwell: That's exactly what happens. The people who have wealth, who have never really considered themselves philanthropists, or those who give $50 to this and $50 to that but who have never really considered themselves capable of making an impact are emotionally charged to make that first $1,000 gift, or $5,000 gift, or $10,000 gift. Then they find out it feels very good. They have the satisfaction of knowing that, "I helped," and feel good about it. So now we've got a new person who's charged, who's turned on by supporting a charitable organization, and they're hooked forever. And that's what makes this country the most generous in the world.

N&V: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Colwell: I think it's probably meeting the people. We have enormous talent at Scripps, across all turfs. TSRI has some of the most brilliant minds in the world. What has been enoyable for me is the fact that not only do you have this world-class research institute with brilliant minds conducting very, very important science—but they're nice people. I've really enjoyed that. And likewise, throughout Scripps Health, there are just genuinely good people. Without exception, everyone who I've talked to has told me they've loved being at Scripps. Not too many organizations can say that. The other thing is the incredible support and encouragement that I've received from the leadership of TSRI and Scripps Health. They are the finest and most talented leadership that I have seen in my career. The talent, the commitment, the dedication is unsurpassed. I really feel that I have joined a winning team.

N&V: Anything else I've missed?

Colwell: The future of Scripps is very, very bright. People already recognize that the research institute is world-class in nature and a key player in biosciences in the world. While Scripps Health has had its share of difficulties as has every other health care organization in this country, in a few years people are going to look at Scripps as a comprehensive health care institution and go, "Wow."


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"The true givers in this country do not stop giving. They give because they believe in what you're doing, they believe in your vision, and they want to make an investment in that. They don't give because their stocks are up 20 percent this year, or because they need a big write-off."

—Cary W. Colwell















"The future of Scripps is very, very bright."

—Cary W. Colwell