This June, for CMO Club Cares Month, we are showcasing CMOs who use their time and talent to make a positive impact and highlight charities that have benefited from CMO expertise through participation in the CMO Club Cares Program. This time around, we highlight CMO Club member David Gitter, CMO at World Poker Tour, for his work with the WPT Foundation, benefiting multiple charities across the globe.
CMO Club — Welcome. Can you tell us about the WPT Foundation?
David Gitter — It all started in 2012 when I first arrived at World Poker Tour. In fact, it one of the first things I did. Since then, we’ve helped raise more than $20 million spread across three dozen charities around the globe so far, including charities like Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation, the Special Olympics, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Education Reform Now, MATTER, Haiti Relief, and a charity close the heart of The CMO Club, K-9s For Warriors. I truly believe it’s the responsibility of all of us to give back, whether it’s through mentorship, time, philanthropic activities, or charitable giving. I think we are all blessed, and as a result, we have to return the favor.
CMO Club — Do you get involved on a grassroots level?
David Gitter — As a matter of fact, last month, we held our eighth consecutive Tiger Jam. We helped raise more than $800,000 for the TGR foundation during that one event. Not surprisingly, poker has become one of the philanthropic activities in the world. When we do a charity poker event, everyone’s in the same room playing the same game. Men and women of all ages love poker. Even for new players, within a one-hour lesson, we can teach you enough poker to play and to have a good time at the table. We offer a lesson before each charity event and more often than not someone at that lesson winds up being at the final table. We embrace companies who have embraced poker as a great philanthropic activity and help them to plan and host events throughout the year to support and raise money to help their own specific charities. All the money raised goes directly to the charities themselves.
On a personal note, after my first year partnering with the TGR Foundation, I became so enamored with what they were doing that I became a personal mentor to one of their students. They’ve put more than 500 kids through college, all expenses paid. The young lady I work with now, a Junior at Stanford University along with her twin sister, have a full-ride scholarship from the TGR Foundation, to study electrical engineering.
CMO Club — What has this meant to you personally?
David Gitter — It’s probably the most gratifying and fulfilling part of my work. Raising money for charities, using poker to not only have a great time, but also using it to help these organizations and give back is wonderful. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to be a mentor for the TGR Foundation. Since its inception in 2012, WPT Foundation has spent roughly $200,000. And over the past seven years, has helped raise more than $20 million. Not a bad ROI. Also fulfilling is that I’ve been able to pass the torch onto my kids as well, both of whom mentor other students and give back in many ways to their college communities.
CMO Club — Do you think your efforts are making a difference?
David Gitter — Absolutely. We’ve helped some great organizations and supported many global charities over the past seven years. I know the money is well spent. For example, I’ve been to the hospitals being built in third world countries by MATTER. I’ve met the children being helped and nursed by Haiti Relief. And I’ve attended the Special Olympics and have seen the pride they bring to wonderfully deserving kids and families from around the globe. I also love it when our charity partners team up to create a win-win outcome. For example, when Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia has older equipment they don’t use anymore, they can donate it to MATTER to provide to the hospitals they are building in third-world countries. As a result, a ten-year-old x-ray machine that’s somewhat outdated for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia could be a great asset for a hospital being built in Haiti.
CMO Club — How has the CMO Club been involved with your charity work?
David Gitter — At last year’s CMO Club Spring Summit in Nashville, I met K9s For Warriors during their Smooch the Pooch campaign. I told them afterward that I could raise money to help them with training and raising one of their dogs through the foundation. We had a charity poker tournament down in Jacksonville, Florida, and raised over $17,000 that evening, enough money to fully sponsor and provide a dog to a needy veteran. That wouldn’t have happened without that presentation at the CMO Club summit. We’ve done big and small events. This one, though on the smaller side, is one of the most important.