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 weather the storm. 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 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.”
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.”
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.
You can learn more about Regional One Health Foundation at www.regionalonehealthfoundation.org or by calling (901) 545-8373.
Copyright 2015– Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.