Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fostering a Culture of Philanthropy within CHRISTUS Health

When CHRISTUS Health was created in 1999 by the joining of the health care ministries of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, we recognized the deep commitment both Congregations had to funding these ministries through strong philanthropy programs.

We also realized that if reimbursements continued their downward trend, finding other funding for our health care ministry would be an absolute necessity.

Therefore, we as CHRISTUS immediately launched a number of strategic efforts to elevate philanthropy within the newly organized system. In 2001 and again in 2003, the Senior Leadership Team undertook concerted efforts to elevate Philanthropy as one of the foundations of the Journey to Excellence. A major study, with recommendations for the program, was completed in 2001 by an outside consultant. Enhancements to the program were implemented. In 2003, a system director of philanthropy was appointed.

Also as a part of the effort to elevate philanthropy, the CHRISTUS Academy Class of 2004-2005 selected a review of Philanthropy as one of their class projects. The Academy Project served as a stimulus for the continued evolution of the CHRISTUS Philanthropy programs. The increased awareness and understanding of the importance of Philanthropy within CHRISTUS was greatly enhanced as a result.

Those efforts have been paying off. Record reporting--although sketchy initially--indicates that the various system foundations raised approximately $14 million in 1999. This has grown consistently over the years to approximately $20M in Fiscal Year 03, and a peak of $28 million in FY06. The system programs have set a collective goal of $29 million for FY08.

The following is a brief summary and status report of the major efforts and accomplishments over the last nine years aimed at elevating philanthropy within CHRISTUS Health:

Professional Leadership
It is obvious to us that fundraising is most successful at the local or regional level. People want to give to their local entities and feel less benevolence to a more anonymous “CHRISTUS Health.” Therefore, we have organized our philanthropy programs so that regional foundations raise money locally. With support from the CHRISTUS system, there are now foundations/development programs in all major locations, and most have hired certified professional development directors (CDOs) for their programs. We have also spearheaded an effort to integrate those professionals into the strategic planning/leadership teams of the regions in which they work.

We also recommended that all CDOs report directly to the CEOs of the organizations where they are located. In addition, all CHRISTUS Health philanthropy professionals have been encouraged to obtain certification in fundraising, specifically the CFRE designation (Certified Fund Raising Executive).

System Support of Regional Philanthropy Efforts
There have been concerted efforts over the last nine years to encourage continuing education for the CDOs and their staff. The system philanthropy office continues to provide membership for all fundraising staff in the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) and in The Advisory Board’s Philanthropy Leadership Council. Both organizations provide extensive audio conferences, seminars and resource materials. A number of CDOs have been able to attend the prestigious AHP Madison Institute for Healthcare Philanthropy.

The system philanthropy office has also developed a Philanthropy Council to promote system consistency and improve communication, identity and networking, which meets at least twice a year. In fact, many system departments throughout CHRISTUS have called these councils together in their specific areas, and we have been told by our Associates out in the regions that these are wonderful resources that allow them to seek advice and share best practices, programs and ideas.

The system office has also developed an internal newsletter to highlight the accomplishments of the various philanthropy programs, and to communicate changes and important issues. Our Philanthropy report has also been refined in collaboration with Accounting in order to ensure that we do not report certain items twice, like earnings and interest. We also worked to clarify the audit process that each foundation should follow.

As I have mentioned in past blog posts, we also host an annual Foundation Board Chair Meeting for education and networking between the chairs of all the foundation boards throughout CHRISTUS. This has also led to an increased emphasis on coordination between governance boards of the foundations and regional governance boards. New foundation board members are now being invited to our general System Board Orientation.

The system office has helped develop shared tools, campaign resources, and other “deliverables” over the last nine years. A system resource library has also been developed. Great strides have been made re: a closer working partnership between Philanthropy and Public relations/Marketing associates in all the regions. To model the desired result, Philanthropy now sits on the Marketing/Communication Council and vice versa.

The CHRISTUS Health philanthropy program has also spurred the updating and modernizing of foundation websites to make them capable of e-philanthropy. Along these same lines, all regions have been migrated to the same development database software system, Blackbaud’s “Raiser’s Edge”, considered the best in the industry.

Strategic Planning – Productivity Goals
All foundations are seeking to achieve an established level of sophistication in terms of developing annual strategic plans and setting dollar goals in the areas of annual giving, major gifts, and planned giving. Reporting is now emphasizing both total dollars raised and ROI numbers, and these are being benchmarked against available industry standards as they are developed. These goals also reflect the total dollars needed as a result of the strategic planning process that includes the regional senior leadership teams and regional foundation boards.

Foundations are now setting annual philanthropy goals in terms of how much money will be raised and are therefore developing annual strategic plans for fundraising activities. This information--especially the total dollars raised-- is reported on quarterly to SLT and CHRISTUS Health Board.

Major Gifts
All foundations have put a new and/or renewed emphasis on major gifts and the key role they play in the success of any philanthropy program. Foundations are beginning to put a more major emphasis on “major giving” programs and strategies and less of an emphasis on special events fundraising.

Planned Giving
Over the last nine years, foundations have been encouraged to put a new emphasis on a planned giving strategy. Most recently, foundations have been encouraged to offer their donors and friends charitable estate planning. It is projected that all regional foundations will have established strong planned giving programs, and that planned giving revenues will represent the highest area of giving within CHRISTUS Health’s varied giving programs.

CHRISTUS Health Foundation
The CHRISTUS Health Foundation was incorporated in February of 2006. We realized that we needed a formal foundation that could apply for grants for the entire system and accept donations in those situations where the donor wanted to give to CHRISTUS. This further positions CHRISTUS and its entities as a viable and attractive recipient for philanthropic dollars and good steward of donated resources is a critical philanthropy strategy going forward.

Philanthropy’s Contribution to our Communities
CHRISTUS Health and its philanthropic entities have become leaders in caring for the health of our communities and are being seen more and more as good stewards of community resources. Regional foundations are beginning to participate by issuing grants, including challenge grants for community health care projects and by participating in community strategic planning, fundraising and evaluation. We have set a goal that 1/3 of all philanthropic dollars raised will be used to support community programs. This is sometimes called “social philanthropy” or “venture philanthropy”. CHRISTUS Health is one of the first health care systems to implement this new trend within health care philanthropy.

New Markets for Philanthropy
Since 1999, our philanthropy program has expanded into several new areas. There are continuing goals to evolve the development programs at our continuing care retirement communities, as well as the development programs at Hospice, CHRISTUS HomeCare, and Dubuis Health system into foundations with active local boards, staff, etc.

We are also striving to strengthen, improve, and grow the philanthropy programs in Mexico, perhaps developing one major new foundation for CHRISTUS Muguerza’s clinics and community programs based in Monterrey.

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