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Krista Finlay, Mackenzie Health Foundation

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Krista Finlay, President and CEO, Mackenzie Health Foundation 

Mackenzie Health Foundation is spearheading The Ultimate Campaign, the largest fundraising drive led by a community hospital in Canada, with a $250 million goal to help build and equip Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital and enhance care at the Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital.  


How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your campaign? 

When the pandemic hit, we looked at the work we could continue and the work we had to pause. What emerged quickly was an amazing outpouring of support from our community. 

We partnered with our hospital colleagues right awayGiven my former role as the Hospital’s Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs & Stakeholder RelationsI had existing relationships that helped to create a working group with the hospital within days. We worked closely together to manage all types of donations including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which had to meet rigorous clinical standards to be accepted. As a Foundation, we supported receipting and stewardship of all gifts.  

We received three forms of generous support: 

1. PPE

2. Gifts-in-kind for food, 407 passes, etc.

3. Financial support 

Through our Ultimate Suits You Campaign, which was largely digital and already in market, we launched our COIVD-19 relief fund. This fund supports the Hospital’s greatest needs, rather than limiting it to PPE, because we wanted to direct community support to the hospitals top priorities.  

We provide the framework for the community to get involved and show them how they can make a difference.  

How are you looking ahead? 

We are thinking about moving forward in the immediate, mid-term, and longterm.  

We have been able to pivot quickly. Part of the team is focused on the COIVD-19 working group, and relationship managers did a “thank-a-thon.” From a stewardship perspective, we checked in on our prospects and donors and thanked them for their support. What we found through these conversations were some surprise gestures. Some of our prospects want to continue with their transformational gift but want to also respond to the pandemic. We had two donors make significant matching contributions. This does not negate the longer-term capital gift conversations for the opening of Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital.  

In the midterm – all of our signature events were scheduled for this spring. We rebooked our events into the late fall to carve out our space and have kept our volunteer committees engaged in shifting these events. We recently had our annual fundraising summit virtually with our volunteers to kick off the first quarter. The hospital and foundation board chairs spoke about their continued confidence to meet our campaign goals. The Mayor of Vaughan is our campaign chair and he spoke about his confidence in the community to continue to support the campaign. He acknowledged that there are some people that are hurting and we need to be sensitive to that but there are also many sectors that are continuing to do well. 

We’ve been doing a lot of work with data we have from the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development to understand from a sector perspective where there are opportunities. In Vaughan, there is a lot of construction and development, which remains exceptionally strong but other sectors have been hit harderWe need to be strategic around what the first step looks like and where we will spend our time and effort.  

When thinking longer term, we continue to be hopeful. We are in the home stretch of a major capital campaign – we have raised $177 million of a $250 million campaign. The hospital opens in early 2021 so we will continue to dip our toe in transformational gift conversationsbut we will take our cue from our donors as to when we can have that conversation. We don’t want to start too soon, and we don’t want to leave it too late. We are fortunate to have great guidance from our Transformational Gift Committee and we will listen to them very carefully as to when to step back into those conversations.  

At the community level, we continue to stay committed to thirdparty events. We need to be there when our neighbours are ready to re-connect. It will be a major milestone when public health and government say it is safe to engage, but this may be different than when the community itself decides its ready to re-engage. The next year will be really community driven.  

It’s obvious that community hospitals have never played such a role in keeping all of us safe and well. Often the focus is on major health care centres, but there has been an amazing renewed focus on community hospitals and the role they play in the health system.