The success of the newly formed foundation at Stevens Hospital will be determined over the next five years.
That’s how long Jack Kirkman, the hospital’s vice president of planning and development, said the average foundation takes to build a strong enough donor base to support long-term fundraising campaigns and endowments.
“Before we worry about any of that, we need to focus on building relationships with people in the community,” he said. “Funding is a natural consequence of establishing those connections. It may sound like an altruistic statement, but it’s the truth.”
Kirkman and others associated with the foundation are the first to admit that it won’t be easy.
Stevens’ public image has suffered over the years because of financial instability and a perceived lack of leadership from administrators. Its previous foundation was discontinued in 2003 because of funding shortages, and the hospital’s former chief executive officer was fired a year later.
“I felt scared a couple years when I had to represent the hospital at community events, like I was waiting to be victimized,” said Stevens spokeswoman Jolene Waggoner.
Beginning with the arrival of Stevens Chief Executive Officer Michael Carter last year, Waggoner said morale among employees and patients was lifted.
“People are saying nice things about us and it feels good again to talk to the public about our hospital,” she said. “I hear from people every day how great it is that we have a foundation again and a set of strategic goals to work towards.”
Effective communication with community members and employees will be a key factor in convincing people that Stevens is worth their time and effort.
Since the foundation was reestablished eight months ago, hospital employees have raised more than $22,000 for emergency room enhancements and enrichment programs.
On July 15, the foundation will host the Do Good Classic golf tournament in Mill Creek, launching a $1 million campaign to establish a digital mammography program at the Women’s Breast Imagery Center.
“We’re headed in a really good direction,” said Kit Massengale, director of administration and programming for the foundation. “When patients and community members see someone who is clearly passionate about this hospital and building it up, that’s a very positive force.”
Foundation members hope it’s enough to improve the hospital’s image in the community.
“If we develop those relationships and communicate effectively the hospital’s goals and mission, good things will happen,” Kirkman said.
“Fundraising is as much about building friendships as it is about raising money.”