Raising $100,000,000 is not easy. In fact, as anyone who has had to ask their friends, family or work colleagues to support a favorite cause knows, raising money can be a challenge. As a professional fundraiser, one of the questions I am most often asked is “how do you do what you do”? Variations of the question include: How do you inspire people to give such large gifts? How do you encourage volunteers to ask their friends, family and business associates to support their cause? What goes into setting such an ambitious goal?  In this first post about the Campaign for Swedish, I thought I would start by trying to provide some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of fundraising campaign of this magnitude.

Whether you are trying to raise a few thousand dollars from online donations to support a charity walk or whether you are trying to raise several million dollars to fund a new program or construct a new building, there are five “must haves” that go into any serious fundraising effort:

  1. A worthy cause that fulfills a real need in the community -  At Swedish, all you have to do is walk the halls of any of our campuses and you can immediately see the impact we are making on the health of our community. Swedish will soon have more than 9,000 employees who are dedicated solely to improving the health and well being of our patients. Our outgoing President, Cal Knight (who we will miss tremendously as he moves to Northern California to become CEO of John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek), has a favorite saying I’ve heard him repeat to employees and hospital supporters: “There is not a more valuable way to spend your time and help this community than by working at Swedish.”
  2. An inspiring vision for the future - Being a worthy cause, though, is not enough. You also have to have a clear strategy for how you will meet that need. At Swedish, our vision is to bring quality healthcare closer to home, while also ensuring that our downtown campuses continue to provide the absolute best technology and care to patients.  To do this, we have opened up two new free standing emergency departments in Redmond and Mill Creek, formed a long-term partnership with Stevens (now Swedish Edmonds) and are set to open a new hospital in Issaquah this fall.
  3. Strong leadership - Probably not a surprise, but the CEO or leader of an institution comes to personify and embody the organization. Having a compelling, visionary and articulate leader has played a significant role in helping donors understand our vision and, as a result, our ability to generate $71 million towards our Campaign goal. But strong leadership isn’t just about the CEO - we are also fortunate to have physicians who are passionate about their patients and programs - who help set the vision for the future of health care.
  4. A generous community who supports your mission - Of all the “must haves”, this is the most enjoyable one to talk about. At Swedish, we touch the lives of tens of thousands of people each year. And because of their positive experience—whether it is one of the 8,000 new moms who delivered their babies at Swedish or someone who received life-saving cancer treatment—we have a growing community of grateful “customers” who are eager to give back. And it’s not just grateful patients; we are also blessed to have the support of many community philanthropists who understand the important role Swedish plays in the health of our community.
  5. A skilled staff who can motivate and inspire - Even if you have the other four pieces in place, you still need a skilled team who can help identify areas where gifts can have a powerful and positive impact on your organization’s mission and who can build strong relationships with donors, physicians and staff. Here at Swedish, I am lucky to work along side some of the most professional and skilled colleagues that are passionate about Swedish and health care.

In the coming weeks, I hope to bring these principles to life by providing real examples of how generous, forward-thinking donors help Swedish to bring world class healthcare to patients throughout the region.

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