Three of a Kindness
By Jeff Weinstock
The trio of trustees behind the John Stauffer Charitable Trust continues the charity’s 40-plus years of support for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
In the very conference room where they regularly meet to pore over grant applications submitted to the John Stauffer Charitable Trust, Tim Gosney is reading aloud to John Bradley and Michael Whalen from the list of donations the trust has made to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The three men, all attorneys, preside over the trust, established in 1974 by the will of John Stauffer Jr., onetime director of the Stauffer Chemical Co. Children’s L.A. has been a frequent recipient of the trust’s philanthropy, which goes exclusively to hospitals and universities.
As Gosney reads from the earliest contributions to CHLA, Whalen, who has the closest connection with the hospital—having served on its Board of Trustees throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s—is interested to hear that the first donation was made in 1976. “What did we give the grant for?” he asks.
“Prenatal equipment for critically ill newborns,” Gosney answers. “50,000 bucks.”
“What was the next one?”
“December ’78. Carbon dioxide labor equipment for 50,000.”
Gosney continues down the list, through the most recent, a $3 million gift to the Cancer and Blood Disease Institute to fund research. In all, the donations total $9.4 million. The Stauffer name adorns multiple parts of the hospital, including the John Stauffer Conference Room and the John Stauffer Lobby.
In a recent conversation, Gosney, Whalen and Bradley discussed what has sustained the trust’s relationship with CHLA for over 40 years.
Why has the Stauffer Trust consistently chosen to donate to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles?
Whalen: We learn a lot about hospitals. The fact that we have a continuing association with Children’s Hospital says a lot. Over the years, they have really selected good management. That’s what has been important. Children’s is always rethinking their management to make sure it is working.
Bradley: They’re ultracompetent. They’ve shown the ability to raise large sums of money and to invest it well … into doing a lot of original research. They’re not simply a hospital; they’re a research hospital, and to me that has great appeal.
What funding proposals are most likely to make you say yes?
Gosney: We’re not real big on “general support” kinds of things. The way I’ve said it to hospitals and universities is: “Pick your need and tell us what it is you want, and why.” Then we make our decision when we sit down in this room.
Whalen: We are willing to be surprised. On the hospital side, we start with equipment and facilities, and then as the relationship expands we look at broader programs, laboratories—things we can track.
What influences you to support one institution over another?
Bradley: We pick ones we have faith in and figure they’ll make good use of their money. They report back to us what they’ve done with it. Children’s Hospital gives us reports on every fund we’ve established.
Gosney: That’s certainly a big factor. If they don’t report back and tell us what they’ve done, the next time they come in with a request, that might make the difference.
Do you make regular visits to CHLA to see where the money goes?
Whalen: Oh, sure. We visit every site we give money to. I saw the Stauffer Conference Room before it was built out. I also inspected it as it was being completed.
Gosney: We get to know the doctors, too.
Whalen: After a day of seeing children sick in so many ways, you understand you are seeing money used well to save lives.
To help support Children's Hospital Los Angeles, please visit CHLA.org/Donate.