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Three pitches for the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation medical competition in 2021 were funded by the donor community. Seen above (from left): Dr. David Elias, physician, president and CEO of Canadian Health Solutions; Dr. Ian Maxwell, plastic surgeon, Saint John Regional Hospital (SJRH); Zach Kilburn, regional director of diagnostic, Horizon Health Network; Dr. Darren B. Ferguson, division head of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, SJRH; and Mike Webb, executive vice president and chief human resources and administrative officer, Nutrien.supplied

Putting a human face on health-care philanthropy

Engaging potential donors can be a big challenge for many charities. Explaining how their donations will be used typically requires an inspirational vision of the benefits they will bring. Transforming that vision into something tangible can be the difference between a good campaign and a truly great one.

The Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation believes its medical competition meets the criteria for a great campaign, having raised more than $2.5-million since its inception four years ago. The event has funded several firsts including a Nobel Prize-winning super-resolution microscope and, most recently, the first 3-D Imaging Center in Atlantic Canada that allows clinicians to create a virtual copy of their patient’s anatomy to plan and practise surgery – and all of which have had significant impact on improving New Brunswick health care.

Modelled on the popular Dragon’s Den TV program, the campaign began in 2018 with a live pitch event where three teams of medical professionals competed for a $500,000 prize. The event was judged by five business leaders from across Canada, who also donated the funds for the prize money. The judges listened to the pitches and selected the one they believed to be the most innovative idea for advancing patient care. The approach was a huge success, giving philanthropists a first-hand look at how their investment will make the greatest impact on the largest number of people. It also provides the five judges, who each donated $100,000, an incredible experience of the immediacy of giving.

Our donor community was so moved by the film, for the first time in the event’s history an additional $748,628 was raised since the competition wrapped in September 2021, funding all three medical pitches, reaching thousands of patients across our province.

Shannon Hunter
Vice president of the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation

Fast forward to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a different approach and the Foundation shifted from the theatre to the screen, embracing a reality show format. Each team was paired with a local marketing professional to create a three-minute video pitch that became part of a 45-minute documentary capturing the entire journey, from concept to a virtual pitch filmed across Canada.

Shannon Hunter, vice president of the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation, says the film concept was originally a way to safely bring the medical competition to life. It created a powerful tool that captured clinicians’ passion and commitment to improving health care, bringing important topics to the table in a captivating way that engaged the community. It put a human face on health-care philanthropy.

“The pandemic changed the face of philanthropy and philanthropic outreach completely, and for the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation permanently for our largest fundraising event,” says Ms. Hunter.

Transforming the competition from a live event to a film enhanced fundraising opportunities because it engaged all areas of development, increased overall revenue and played an essential part in expanding the Foundation’s brand profile by engaging a broader audience.

Ms. Hunter points out that more than 3,000 viewers had the chance to hear from the medical professionals advocating for advancements in health care, see their passion and commitment to their patients, and learn about their progressive vision for their practices and departments.

“Our donor community was so moved by the film, for the first time in the event’s history an additional $748,628 was raised since the competition wrapped in September 2021, funding all three medical pitches, reaching thousands of patients across our province,” says Ms. Hunter.

More information: thegive.ca


Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with The Association of Fundraising Professionals Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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