08 September 2015

In Memoriam: John Von Kannon

John Von Kannon (1949-2015)

John Von Kannon, an active member of the ACR Strategy Committee since its founding in 2005, passed away on September 5 after a yearlong battle with cancer. At the time of his death, he was serving as vice president and senior counselor of The Heritage Foundation. He was also one of the founders of The American Spectator.

“John was a strong defender of philanthropic freedom and always added humor, insight, and wisdom to our deliberations. He will truly be missed,” said Adam Meyerson, president of The Philanthropy Roundtable.

A fundraising phenom, Von Kannon raised more than $1 billion dollars in his illustrious career. He was described as a “matchmaker” by Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner as he spent time and effort getting to know people and had a genuine interest in introducing them to others with similar ambitions.

“When John met potential donors, he’d spend most of his time listening. He wanted to learn their core values, what they cared about most and what their goals were—and then he’d introduce them to the people and organizations that held similar values and could advance those goals for them,” said Feulner in a memorium posted by the Heritage Foundation.

When he joined The Heritage Foundation in 1980, it had a $3.7 million budget powered by just a few major donors. Under his guidance, the donor base grew to over a half-million, making Heritage one of the most broadly-supported think tanks in the world.

“We [tried] to create a sense of community among [donors],” said Von Kannon in a 2006 article in Philanthropy magazine.

Earlier this year, the Heritage Foundation presented Von Kannon with the Clare Boothe Luce Award, the organization’s most prestigious honor. The award commends outstanding leadership and dedication to the conservative cause. Past recipients include Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and William F. Buckley Jr.

John is survived by his wife Cindy and their two teenage children, Rachel and Jack. He was 66 years old.