How to Transform Fundraising Challenges to Success

CEO Dr Coopwood, co-chair Susan Arney, Tammie Ritchey, co-chair Sally Pace, Regional One Health Foundation

CEO Dr Coopwood, co-chair Susan Arney, Tammie Ritchey, co-chair Sally Pace, Regional One Health Foundation

Challenging finances and what feels like an onslaught of “bad press” can be part of the nonprofit experience. Addressing these is what leadership is all about. Keep an eye to the future, talk with your donors and stakeholders, and find a game-changing way to engage the community. This is the story of Regional One Health and its foundation.

Tammie Ritchey, Vice President of Development and Executive Director of Regional One Health Foundation in Memphis Tennessee knows what it’s like to be part of a team that weathers the storm and emerges with stronger leadership, new visions, strategy, partners and donors. She credits her board, new leadership and engaged donors with the turn around of what was once The MED and is now Regional One Health.

First, executive leaders took time to personally share strategic directions and vision with major donors, keeping them in the loop. The foundation board played a major role too, and continues to do so. Ritchey credits their leadership and initiative, sharing “They help develop strategies and tactics that raise the money needed to advance the system’s goals.  They are our advocates, providing guidance and vision.” And they recruit new board members.

Ritchey proudly promotes the foundation board, “I sincerely believe we have one of the strongest board of directors around.  They are all quite brilliant in their own lives outside of the board and very successful men and women.  They are dedicated to Regional One Health, they believe in the vision, and they all work passionately on our behalf.  They challenge me every day to go harder, to push further, to give more to the patients and families we serve.  “And we have several members who held on with us during some very challenging times. It was very difficult to be on a fundraising board and not be able to raise a lot of funds because of the public’s perception of the hospital at that time.”

Read Part One:
How to Have a Visible and Active Foundation

But that has changed. The foundation now hosts a sell-out gala that is nothing short of spectacular. How did it get started? By a board member! “The gala started when then board member, Leigh Shockey, asked her friend, legendary producer David Guest to bring a soul review that he was doing in London to Memphis and allow the money raised to go to the then MED.  He agreed and she recruited board member Susan Arney to assist her with this.  The first gala had 14 artists and was put together in eight weeks!,” Ritchey explains.

“We used the gala specifically as a way to challenge and change the business community’s and donor community’s public perception of us.  It’s very important that our gala guests have a one-of-a-kind, first class experience – just like what we strive for with our patients and their families when they use our services. The first year we held the gala people said they were happy to support us, but they were unsure about what the experience would be like – so in a way it was a bit of a test.”

Robert (Kool) Bell, Regional One Healthcare Foundation, Saad&Shaw

Pictured: Robert (Kool) Bell

The foundation clearly passed the test, as the event is an annual sell out with people who literally buy their tables a year ahead of time.  And the health system has passed the test as well, Ritchey adds. “Patients used to be reticent about using our services, but once they get on campus and have their first experience with us they are thrilled with their care and outcomes and trust us for their healthcare needs.”

To close out our interview we asked Ritchey what two things she wants readers to know. Here are her words:

“Regional Health One handles cases that some physicians can go a lifetime without ever seeing or experiencing…in the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology and high risk obstetrics… we are national industry leaders.  We are creating an institution that our community needs and deserves but that does not currently exist. With our partners (donors, advocates, physicians) we will transform health care in this region.”

“Much of what is considered national industry best practices in the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology, and high risk obstetrics, were developed here at Regional One Health.  In the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology and high risk obstetrics, we are national leaders and our physicians are sought after for their industry knowledge and expertise.”

Here’s to a bright future for Regional One Health. We salute your vision and leadership.

Answers to our readers’ frequently asked questions:
Q. Does your board have a giving requirement?
A. All board members are required to give financially each year.

Q. Does your board have term limits?
A. Yes.  Members are eligible to serve two consecutive three year terms.

Q. Are all event costs underwritten?
A. No – I wish! We are working on building that up.  This event is just four years old – but we have made money every year.

Q. What is the primary source of funding for the foundation?
A. It varies each year but last fiscal year it was foundations and individuals.

Q. What is the relationship between the CEO of Regional One Health and the foundation?
A. The CEO of the system serves as the President of the Foundation board.

Q. What awards has the medical center received recently?
A. We were just named to Becker’s Healthcare just announced that we are one of the 150 best places to work in the nation.

Here’s all their information:
Regional One Health
877 Jefferson Avenue | Memphis, TN 38103
901-545-8373
Web: www.regionalonehealthfoundation.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RegOneHealthFDN
twitter:@RegOneHealthFDN

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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