I bet you’ve never heard of AIRI, the Association of Independent Research Institutes, and, that’s okay. AIRI represents the seventy-five most esteemed independent, not-for-profit biomedical and behavioral research organizations in the United States. Members share the common-goal of improving human health and advancing knowledge.
It’s a pretty heady group, engaged in high-level conversations across every bio-medical sector these institutes touch, as well as around government relations, to ensure their operational and regulatory functions. Historically, most AIRI member organizations haven’t needed to devote a huge amount of their resources to pursuing philanthropy because they are unusually well-funded from their founding fathers which have included: Howard Hughes, J.D. Rockefeller, Eli Broad, Jim Stowers, Jay Van Andel, etc. They simply haven’t needed my kind very much, so I’m especially honored and looking forward to speaking at the annual AIRI conference this fall in Washington, D.C.
What AIRI member institutions do need is targeted, intelligent, strategic fundraising, and, increased visibility. I will speak to that, and about advancement goals that aren’t just measured in dollars. Instead of constantly seeking donations to keep their doors open, these endowed institutes can afford to campaign for public awareness, not just capital. The leaders at these institutes can focus efforts on illuminating the meaningful contributions of science that make a difference in the lives of regular people every day. Storytelling is critical, and translation is key. Science in labs can be hard to understand for general audiences. Yes, raising money is important. Raising awareness is priceless.