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Henry Ford Health launches its largest fundraising campaign

by News7

Henry Ford Health is in the early phase of a nine-figure, comprehensive campaign — the largest in its 108-year history — to support the $1.8 billion expansion of its Detroit hospital.

The multi-year effort will also include a joint research center planned with Michigan State University and other projects.

HFH is teaming up with MSU to raise money for the new research center, an effort that has already garnered a multi-million-dollar lead gift.

The 1 million-square-foot hospital building and outbuildings planned for the site across from Henry Ford Health’s flagship hospital and the joint research center are part of a $2.5 billion project in development with MSU, Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and other stakeholders. The larger vision also includes the HFH Center for Athletic Medicine, Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, mixed-use residential and a parking structure.

“The fact that MSU and Henry Ford are coming together around research around cancer, health disparities and DEI will be really powerful to the donor community, especially those who have an interest in both organizations,” said Mary Jane Vogt, executive vice president and chief development officer. “That’s when you really see some transformational giving.”

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Two powerhouse nonprofits teaming up to fundraise on a project isn’t unheard of; it has happened between universities and hospitals in the medical research space in other parts of the country, Vogt said. HFH also has research and training partnerships with Wayne State University. But the joint fundraising isn’t common in Southeast Michigan and certainly not at this scale.

“This is unique for us at this moment in time to be jointly raising money with another large organization,” Vogt said.

The two organizations are jointly strategizing on fundraising to support their formal partnership, HFH + Michigan State University Health Sciences, MSU’s deputy spokesperson Dan Olsen said.

They’ve had success recently, he said, with a foundational donation of $5 million from Heather and Ron Boji, an MSU alum who is CEO of the Boji Group, a real estate development, property management and construction management firm with offices in Birmingham and Lansing.

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The gift will support the development of the joint research facility in Detroit and joint cancer research.

“We are proud of this partnership and our continued work to further cancer research and discoveries while eliminating health disparities,” Olsen said.

Henry Ford Health’s new campaign comes in the wake of its best fundraising year ever, Vogt said. Last year it raised $72 million, about $10 million more than its previous annual record.

HFH is now also working to raise hundreds of millions of dollars toward the costs of the hospital expansion, with the balance of funding for that project expected to come through a mix of operating profits, bonding and borrowing, Vogt said.

“Certainly, when you have projects of this size … you need to build up staff to support that effort.”

That can be challenging when the average length of stay for a fundraiser at health care organizations nationally is 18-24 months, she said, adding that is something she notes when looking at resumes for potential job candidates.

As it moves into campaign mode, the health system is expanding its fundraising team little by little, not en masse, Vogt said.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I want to be very methodical in our growth and very responsible with our budget … we are extremely efficient in our fundraising.”

Nationally, for large health systems like HFH, a $7 billion integrated system, the cost to raise a dollar is about 19 cents, based on Giving USA research, Vogt said. For its part, Henry Ford spends 9-10 cents to raise $1

Health systems around the country like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins often have hundreds of fundraising or development employees on staff, given their larger budgets. In Southeast Michigan, the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine is in that ballpark, with more than double HFH’s fundraiser numbers, Vogt said.

But HFH is being more measured as it adds fundraising support to raise money for the new Detroit campus. So far, Vogt said she’s added about 10 people to its 40-member development team. Going forward, she’ll continue to hire a handful of new development professionals at a time to increase fundraising capacity, with no set target.

The goal is to retain those highly-efficient fundraisers after the campaign ends to continue to support the health system, said Vogt, who has been on HFH’s development team for 26 years with the past four as chief development officer.

“You want to make sure as you staff up, you’re able to sustain that baseline for fundraising … I would never be able to have enough staff to meet all the needs we have.”

To attract fundraising talent, you have to pay the going rate, especially given the competitive marketplace, she said. There are more openings than there are people to fill them.

Beyond compensation, nonprofits need to find the people who connect with their mission, Vogt said, whether that is animals, arts, education or in the health system’s case, working to improve the lives of the people it serves.

Vogt has focused over the past several years on building greater depth in HFH’s fundraising team, providing pathways for career advancement as a way to keep talent on staff. That’s helped with retention; some on the team have eight-year, 10-year or 16-year tenures with the health system, something that is attractive to new hires, she said.

“We’ve had the benefit of some boomerangs coming back, people who left the organization and want to come back and be part of this next chapter,” she said.

Source : Modern Healthcare

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