How do you ask someone for $400 million?
If youre asking South Dakota businessman T. Denny Sanford, youll probably make the pitch at his kitchen table. And youd better have a very compelling cause.
Or at least thats the way it went for Kelby Krabbenhoft, the president and CEO of the newly renamed Sanford Health, formerly Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System. In October 2005, Krabbenhoft met with Sanford in the philanthropists Colorado home. He left with a $400 million donation, which officials unveiled Feb. 3. This was not a New York City, lawyer-surrounded deal, Krabbenhoft says. Its like everything he does, very much at home.
Krabbenhoft approached Sanfordwho had already committed $50 million to the Sioux Falls, S.D., systemwith a concrete (but pricey) proposal to invest heavily in pediatric care, an expansion of the systems Sioux Falls campus and medical research.
The gift will fund a 20-building expansion of Sanford Healths Sioux Falls campus and finance five pediatric clinics across the U.S. It will also back expansion of five existing research initiatives, create a sixth in pediatric health, and target a highly promising area for focused medical research by using funds to convene experts and attract federal research grants.
The CEO also vowed to use the donation and Sanford Healths existing reserves to ensure the systems long-term financial stability through an endowment, Krabbenhoft says.
Flying home from Colorado I was still trying to figure out how many zeros come after the four, Krabbenhoft says. (For the record, its eight.) It was larger than we could comprehend at that time. The donationthe largest healthcare donation ever, according to Indiana Universitys Center on Philanthropyseems more concrete now that officials have worked out the commitments, initiatives and responsibilities that accompany the gift, he said, but that does not make the amount any less historic. Its still so precedent-setting, Krabbenhoft says.