Think and act differently, get different results

Hospitals come in all shapes and sizes; trauma, rehabilitation, specialized, general, regional, teaching or community based; yet delivering safe, high-quality patient care remains at the heart of every mission. Within a health care system and an environment that continues to change, there is something else they have in common. More than ever, hospitals rely on support from their foundations to drive innovation and enable growth.

A total of $2.4 billion in fundraising revenues was reported in 2010 in support of Canadian hospitals alone (according to T3010 filings). Since 2008, the focus for the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation (MSHF) is its $50 Million Campaign for Expansion. The first phase of this redevelopment project was the opening of a brand new 385,000-square-foot building in March 2013. The ongoing and final phase involves extensive renovations to the original building scheduled for completion in August 2014.

Thanks to our generous donors, we recently surpassed the $45 million mark and remain on target to reach our goal at the same time as the hospital’s completion. This last $5 million is critical to the success of the capital campaign; however, our commitment to innovative approaches for fundraising is vital to ensure our sustainable future.

Our mandate is simple, sustainable revenue generation for today and tomorrow, and our priorities are clear: • Build on the success of getting single donations of $10,000 and more pledged over time, something referred to as leadership giving; • Expand the donor base through broader community outreach to identify leadership donors of the future; • Create valued experiences because engaged donors keep giving and give more.

While many fundraising organizations’ mandates are similar, the difference between success and failure is execution.

Fundraising innovation means different things to different organizations and depends on the maturity and mix of programs. At MSHF, we’re thinking differently about the needs of the hospital, our community, our volunteers and our donors. And we are doing things differently.

Broadly speaking, our community is made up of donors and prospective donors who are segmented further by the size of their donation and how they give. Leadership donors are usually a result of one-to-one relationships, whereas annual and monthly donors contribute smaller amounts on a regular basis, often in response to event participation or a mailed solicitation.  Staff and volunteer resources are built to support this approach.

Our recent strategic planning process challenged us to define and think differently about our core business: revenue generation and community engagement. We evaluated all of our programs and activities to determine which category they fit into the best – it couldn’t be both. This led to a new perspective about our community which we now segment based on specific demographics, each group with a unique value proposition that helps us take a targeted approach in our communications, engagement strategies and relationship building.

We also identified the programs and activities that were working well, not so well and in some cases, not at all. This also enabled us to consider the target audiences we were reaching out to (or not) and prioritize the importance of doing so. We are also developing and prioritizing new programs and initiatives and changing our organizational structure to support our core business of revenue generation and community engagement.

Doing things differently also means making tough decisions about what not to do. It is no longer reasonable to assume that the past is a key indicator of what the future brings. It is easy to keep doing what you’ve done before because it’s comfortable and nice to be good at all things. It is a much greater challenge, and more strategic, to identify fewer areas where you want to excel. This means going down the road less travelled.

In today’s world of rapid and digital communications, we are in a constant state of evolution. Being strategic and innovative requires us to be agile. It is essential to continuously validate your programs and initiatives to ensure they are taking you in the right direction and, if not, adapt. The traditional approach to planning is adapting, it’s dynamic and more about thinking strategically.

MSHF is about to make history with the completion of the largest fundraising capital campaign in our community, however, our greatest success will be defined by what happens next, how we get there and ultimately whether our hospital can continue to rely on our revenue generation and community engagement to drive innovation and enable growth.

While the system and environment continues to change and our innovative approaches to fundraising continue to evolve, both the hospital and its partner foundation must continue to celebrate our greatest strength – the caring and compassionate people who deliver outstanding care at Markham Stouffville Hospital. It is their dedication to excellence that our continued success relies on to inspire and earn the generous support of every member of our community.