Long before graduating with honors from Georgetown University and working alongside his father, Donald Trump, Eric Trump recognized that having a renowned surname comes with great responsibility and opportunity.
“I had been given everything in life. I drew the long straw in health, and I was incredibly lucky to get a great education,” says Eric, 27, executive vice president of Development and Acquisitions for The Trump Organization.
So at age 22, he did something that few young men of his generation do: He brainstormed with like-minded friends about ways to give back to the community. “We decided we wanted our focus to be on children because that was most near and dear to our hearts,” he says.
The result was The Eric Trump Foundation (ETF), whose events have benefited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 2007. The foundation board visited many children’s hospitals before choosing St. Jude as its sole beneficiary.
“We were moved by what we saw when we went to Memphis and toured the hospital. They have a recipe for success unlike any other hospital,” Eric says. The selling point for him was that St. Jude never denies a child treatment due to the family’s inability to pay or charges families for what their insurance does not cover.
A self-described “numbers guy,” Eric says the hospital’s success is quantifiable. “To me, it is all about basic numbers. In the 1960s, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia was 4 percent; today it is 94 percent,” he says.
He also cites the hospital’s work in retinoblastoma, a disease for which survival rates have increased from 75 to 95 percent. “One doctor, in perpetuity, can make a tremendous difference and save thousands of lives,” he observes. “They are miracle workers.”
Eric wanted his foundation to be a similar model of efficiency. By leveraging Trump Organization resources, Eric gets everything gratis for events. He credits a dedicated board for the success of the foundation, which has increased its donations almost 40 percent year after year while maintaining one of the lowest expense ratios in the country. “We have an incredible team,” he says, mentioning board member Katrina Kaupp, in particular.
Eric is also a member of the St. Jude Professional Advisory Council, a group he admires for its diversity and commitment. “They really believe,” he says. “They are industry leaders who, like me, are willing to move mountains for St. Jude.”
The main fundraiser for ETF is a golf invitational held every September at Trump National Golf Club, Westchester, New York. With plans to expand this successful franchise to all Trump National Golf Clubs within the coming years, Eric is confident ETF will be able to raise more than $1 million for St. Jude annually.
Every year when Eric visits St. Jude, he meets a patient family. During his first visit, he met a boy who had little hope for survival. Last year, the family attended the ETF golf invitational, where the boy and his parents received a standing ovation from the more than 700 attendees.
“We have become great friends with the family,” Eric says. “They are amazing people.”