The best unpaid job in fundraising

Fundraising for my community hospital has been one of the most rewarding jobs. It’s an opportunity to work amongst passionate people who are driven by the common goal to build a healthier community. Over the past four years, the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation dedicated their efforts to raise $50 million towards expanding the hospital to meet the needs of the growing community.

As a volunteer Co-Chair of the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation’s Expansion Campaign with Mayor Frank Scarpitti, City of Markham, our role is simple and great. We are the faces of the campaign and it is all about relationships and working as the volunteer board to guide the Foundation team to success. Both myself and Mayor Scarpitti have been long time supporters and are passionate advocates for the hospital.

There are four major fundraising arms within the Foundation: annual giving, special events, major gifts, and planned giving. Each of these areas plays a significant role in raising funds for the Expansion Campaign. Building relationships with the community and generating awareness about the hospital, the campaign and the cause is the first step, and everyone plays a part in that.

The Foundation team is supported by a volunteer board made up of top business leaders and community philanthropists from across Markham and Stouffville. Together, we bring our collective knowledge, passion, extensive networks and commitment to the hospital and have agreed to work collaboratively to fulfill the fundraising goal.

We are fortunate to be fundraising for a cause that already has so much support and is so vital for the community. There is no exact science, formula or text book that tells you how to do this. We are guided by the time tested strategies and the expertise that each volunteer board member brings to the campaign.

Inside the boardroom:

Talk about it – Our board has regular formal and informal meetings to talk about the campaign, the strategies and action plans for how we can guide the Foundation team to tackle the next milestones. We learned from one another about our community – what matters to the community, what makes the community want to give, and who are the leaders and the key influencers. Knowing our community and who can make things happen, allows us to focus our efforts.

Break it down – Raising $50 million is no easy task and requires a team effort. We look at the big picture and break it down into more manageable shorter term goals such as reaching our first million, achieving 25 per cent, 50 per cent, 75 per cent and 100 per cent. Within each milestone we work to develop strategic guiding principles and targets to support the Foundation team. 

Engage everyone – Markham is one of the most diverse cities in Ontario and it’s important to engage everyone. To learn more about our diverse cultures, we look to our ethno-cultural leaders on our Foundation board to help guide our campaign to success. We empowered them to work within their communities and generate interest and excitement, and ask them to advise the Foundation team on the most effective way to engage different cultures and ethnicities. We know that people who live and work in our community want to support the hospital and our goal is to involve as many people as possible in our cause.

Giving begins at home – The dedicated staff, physicians and volunteers at the hospital believe in their hospital and have generously donated to support the expansion. This internal, volunteer led fundraising effort generated incredible results. This truly speaks to how committed the people who work at Markham Stouffville Hospital are to their patients, their hospital and the community.

Every donation is important – Every donation great or small has an impact. The single mother who donates $50 a month, the frontline nurse who donates a portion of her pay cheque, the senior on a fixed income who donates $200 per year and the school kids who organize fun runs and donation drives to support their hospital. Markham Stouffville Hospital is here to serve the people of our community and the more people who get involved, the better.

Raising $50 million is a marathon, not a sprint. You need dedicated and committed volunteers who are in it for the long haul.Our efforts help the hospital meet the demands of its growing community today, but also ensures the hospital is well positioned to deliver the quality care our community needs tomorrow.

Fundraising can be tiring and time consuming, but it can also be the most rewarding job you will ever do. For me, supporting my local hospital and having the honour of Co-Chairing this campaign is an absolutely priceless experience.