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Comcast Exec Sees Plenty of Donor Dollars Available For Philadelphia Mega-Events

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- One of Philadelphia's top movers and shakers says there are more than enough deep pockets in the region to help pay for both a potential visit of the pope to Philadelphia next year and a Democratic National Convention in 2016.

Big-money donors in the region might be running for the hills right now.  Both the World Meeting of Families (with or without Pope Francis) and the possible Democratic nominating convention would rely on their generosity.

But Comcast executive vice president David Cohen says he's not concerned that the region's fundraising capacity could get tapped out.

"We're the fifth largest city in America," Cohen notes, "and I think our civic leadership has the capacity to be able to raise the money to host these two pretty special events in consecutive years in Philadelphia."

Cohen traces his optimism to the fact that both events would rely to a great degree on nationwide donations and, for the World Meeting of Families, international help, so the local "ask" would be minimized.

And he says this level of local giving would likely not impact more routine philanthropy by major donors to local groups.

"These contributions are largely coming from different pockets and from different sources than would typically support the Philadelphia nonprofit community base," Cohen tells KYW Newsradio.  "Most of the money that you're raising for these events are coming out of different budgets.  They're not coming out of philanthropic budgets, they're coming out of marketing budgets or sponsorship budgets."

Case in point, he says, is his own Comcast Corporation, which has its own philanthropic arm.

"The (Comcast) foundation is what we use to support nonprofits.  This (donation for DNC or a papal visit) would come out of a marketing pot that is typically used to promote the company, not used to support nonprofit organizations."

Cohen also believes that local philanthropy by individuals will not be affected by the needs of these two mega-events.

"Individuals are going to support the nonprofits that they feel connected to and passionate about," he says.  "And being asked on a one-time basis to support incredible events like the World Meeting of Families or the Democratic National Convention really is not going to limit their willingness or ability to continue to support nonprofits in Philadelphia."

Moreover, says Cohen, the nonprofits in Philadelphia and the region are likely to see indirect benefits simply by having the World Meeting of Families and a political convention in town.

"I think, measured over any relevant period of time, there's going to be a net positive for anyone if we are successful in attracting the Democratic National Convention, and if in fact the pope does join us for the World Meeting of Families."

The pope's appearance at the World Meeting of Families in September 2015 has been widely hinted at but won't be formally confirmed until early next year.  The DNC is expected to announce its decision regarding a site for the 2016 convention by the end of this year.

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