We are Family
Why one couple has used their philanthropy to support DAP Health
Words by Jacob Anderson-Minshall
Photos by Donato Di Natele
Walter Annenberg, a businessman turned ambassador, made millions in his life, and in his later years, he and his wife, Leonore, became two of the most prominent philanthropists in the United States. Their family name is emblazoned on literally dozens of buildings all over Southern California, and it can open doors to scientists and artists alike.
Scot and Lance Karp aren’t trying to compete with the Annenbergs, but their philanthropy is making a big impact in the desert all the same.
“We’re not the biggest givers in the valley,” Scot acknowledges. “We’re not competing with the Annenbergs; we never will, that’s not our goal. But [using] what we have, we feel that we’re duty-bound to contribute to making our community and other people’s lives better.”
That resonates with the mission of DAP Health, says Director of Development James Lindquist. “Philanthropists are the backbone of our organization. They are the ones who helped us first get started.”
Today, the nonprofit founded in 1984 to respond to the AIDS crisis serves more than 10,000 people annually and hopes to reach 25,000 a year by 2025. It has been donors, Lindquist says, that “helped us to expand our services, to buy the Annette Bloch CARE Building, to make the Barbara Keller LOVE Building expansion, to build the Marc Byrd Behavioral Health Clinic, the Karla Kjellin-Elder and Jeff Elder Social Services Wing, and so much more.”
The Karps’ own philanthropy underwrote the behavioral health reception area within the Barbara Keller LOVE Building expansion. The couple says they were originally drawn to DAP Health via its association with Steve Chase, the world-renowned interior designer who was an early donor, volunteer, and board member of Desert AIDS Project (as DAP Health was originally known).
After the Karps first attended the annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (dubbed The Chase), they ended up buying a home designed by him. A trained architect, Scot says he and his husband were just drawn to the home. “So that was another connection as we learned about Steve Chase’s depth of involvement with starting Desert AIDS Project back in the ’80s when there was no
Of course, Scot adds, the organization is no longer “just an AIDS organization anymore — it’s a community-based health organization that serves everyone.”
Scot and Lance built their own wealth in the highly competitive Southern Florida real estate world before buying a home in Rancho Mirage five years ago.
The two came from middle-class families, and Scot says, “created our own destiny. We’re not inherited wealth; we’re not trust-fund guys. We created it and we wanted to use those resources for bettering other people’s lives. Lance and I feel very privileged to live the life we live; we don’t take it for granted. We both believe in our hearts that there’s an obligation. One of the basic tenets of philanthropy is ‘to those much is given, much is required.’ We don’t say that as a platitude; we live our lives that way.”
Drawn to DAP Health because of its involvement with the local LGBTQ+ community, Scot and Lance researched the organization, toured the campus, and met with CEO David Brinkman before deciding to throw their financial support behind it.
Now in their 60s, the couple says their philanthropic philosophy is “to choose causes that are important to us and that benefit others, and to be examples to inspire others to join. We’ve always been connectors, and we’ve always been influencers within our circle because we’re quite careful with what we get involved in. When we choose a cause, it’s after doing a lot of research and study. And then we want to get other people involved. So it’s like leading by example. People know that we’re judicious and careful with our vetting of the causes we get behind.”
Although the men make numerous smaller contributions to other organizations, they have chosen to focus on LGBTQ+ health care when making their more significant donations. To facilitate that giving, the couple established a foundation in 2018.
“The naming of our foundation was quite purposeful,” Scot explains. “It’s the Scot and Lance Karp Family Foundation, and we wanted ‘family’ in the name because there’s two men and we’re a family.”
Choosing to underwrite the behavioral health reception area was equally considered. “We feel that there’s a huge need for behavioral health and mental health care,” Scot says. “DAP Health is dear to our hearts because it’s our community and we feel that we have to support our community … That’s why we feel passionate about it; because it serves the LGBTQ+ community.”
The Karps’ donation will both serve generations to come and continue to inspire others to give.
Lindquist says the Karps are living proof that, “If you find something that you are passionate about, or that has changed your life, or that has meaning to you — find a way to support it. You don’t have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist, you just have to care.”
Scots says he and Lance agree. “True philanthropy is, no matter what you have, you give something,” he reflects. “It may not be giving of financial backing. It may be giving of your time, giving of your support, or giving of your enthusiasm about an organization or a cause.”
The men truly prioritize causes where they can see results in their lifetimes, and while they may never know all of the names of the people they’ve impacted, Lindquist says they’re aware of the thousands of people whose lives they’ve changed. “I think that’s got to be the greatest gift of philanthropy,” he concludes, “when you can do it when you’re still alive.”
To follow the Karps’ example, contact DAP Health Director of Development James Lindquist at 760.656.8413 or via JLindquist@DAPHealth.org.