Fundraising efforts embrace diversity

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Variety is the spice of life.

This phrase definitely applies to the recent fundraising efforts of The Scarborough Hospital Foundation (TSHF).

From hosting its second Scarborough World Gala, to a Chinese radiothon, to the second annual Scarborough World Cup of Cricket tournament, TSHF stays connected to the Scarborough community’s diverse population to understand their interests, so the Foundation can host events that cater to them. This helps ensure community engagement and a great event turnout.

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To stay connected, TSHF has established several philanthropic councils, representative of Scarborough’s global community, to provide people of different backgrounds and interests with the opportunity to become engaged and express what they want in their hospital and how they can benefit the hospital with fundraising initiatives. There are councils (at different stages) for Chinese, South Asians, women and young professionals. Another community council is open to anyone who doesn’t identify with one of the other councils, and is also diverse in its makeup.

TSHF meets with the councils regularly, as well as with each of the individual councils separately, to give a voice to each of these groups.

This approach has been incredibly beneficial to the Foundation.

“To be able to fundraise effectively in a diverse community like Scarborough, you have to know its population.” says Michael Mazza, President and CEO for TSHF. “The philanthropic councils allow all of us to share ideas and experiences, so we can learn from one another.  They are vital to our success as a community. With their support and input, we can host events that not only interest, but acknowledge, the community’s diverse cultures and identities.”

According to the city of Toronto’s Community Council Profiles 2011 census, Scarborough is one of the most diverse regions in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). With a population of more than 600,000, 59 per cent of residents are foreign born, 70 per cent are visible minorities, and more than 50 per cent of the population speaks a primary language other than English or French.

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With such a diverse community, it’s no surprise that Scarborough residents have been receptive to TSHF’s inclusive events and initiatives.

In May of this year, TSHF hosted the Scarborough World Gala, which had guests from all areas of the globe. The event raised more than $1.5 million in support of The Scarborough Hospital’s (TSH) Cancer Care program. The event drew interest from local and international celebrities, such as Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson who provided the keynote address, CTV News personality Anwar Knight, who emceed the event and renowned musician Lawrence Gowan who performed a few of his greatest hits.

On June 5, TSHF partnered with the Chinese radio station, Fairchild Radio to broadcast a live radiothon at TSH for urgently needed medical equipment. Cantonese and Mandarin speaking volunteers came out to support the event, and staff, physicians and volunteers from TSH spoke on-the-air, in both Chinese languages and in English, to express the hospital’s need for the equipment.

A more recent example of TSHF`s outreach to the community`s diverse population was at the second annual Scarborough World Cup of Cricket (SWCC). Cricket is one of the most popular games in the world, especially in South Asian and Caribbean cultures, and it`s becoming increasingly popular within the GTA.

From June 20 to 24, hundreds of Scarborough residents came out to Centennial College`s fields to watch 11 exciting games of cricket. In addition to the tournament, there were cricket clinics, a family barbecue, an international food fair, face painting and Teddy Bear “check-ups” performed by hospital doctors and nurses in field tents, in hopes of lessening children’s fears about getting their own check-ups.

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“Events like this allow our organization the opportunity to showcase the talents of our amazing athletes,” said Kirsten Bobbie, Legacy and Outreach Coordinator, Special Olympics Ontario. “We want to let the public know that our athletes can participate in the same sports as other athletes, and they can outperform other athletes.”

The SWCC was an excellent event to engage not only the South Asian and Caribbean communities within Scarborough, but also to reach people in the community that have a physical or intellectual disability.

Knowing your audience and embracing their culture and interests is the best way to fundraise. Research, listen and understand your hospital`s population and you`ll be pleasantly surprised with the results you achieve.