Foundation recognizes long-term donors

Long-term, loyal friends should be cherished and honoured. That's exactly what the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation did during its annual general meeting and donor recognition event last week.

  • Oct. 14, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Long-term, loyal friends should be cherished and honoured.

That’s exactly what the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation did during its annual general meeting and donor recognition event last week.

Maeve O’Byrne, foundation president, said this year marks the 20th anniversary since the foundation’s first capital campaign was launched and the organization wanted to recognize two groups, a service organization and corporation, that are long-time supporters.

The Nanaimo Auxiliary to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital has donated to the foundation every year for the past 21 years while Coastal Community Credit Union has done so for the past 14 years.

“As a fundraising organization, donors who consistently give are sort of the bread and butter for us,” said O’Byrne. “We can rely on them.”

The foundation was established in 1977 as a means for grateful patients to give back, but prior to 1991, it was attached to the hospital and did not do any active fundraising.

In 1991, the foundation was asked to raise $2 million for an expansion of the emergency and medical imaging departments.

The Nanaimo hospital board hired the fundraising company that O’Byrne was working for to run a capital campaign.

“Everybody said we were nuts, we couldn’t do that,” she said. “I think it was probably the first major campaign in Nanaimo other than the United Way campaigns.”

O’Byrne and the campaign cabinet took just nine months to raise the money and then the foundation became a separate organization with O’Byrne as its head.

Over the years, the organization has added the annual fundraising events that many area residents are familiar with, such as Golf for Life and Lotto for Life, and started up two revenue-generating businesses – the coffee shop in the hospital and the Nanaimo Lifeline Program.

Now O’Byrne is back to where she started 20 years ago – heading up a fundraising campaign to support another emergency department expansion to meet the needs of the growing community.

The foundation has committed to raising $4 million by the summer of 2012 to buy equipment for the new ER.

“We’ve got about $2.4 million to go,” said O’Byrne, adding that the last 18 months of fundraising has been the most challenging she’s ever experienced in her 30 years of fundraising.

“With the market uncertainty, we’re finding that the number of donors is down,” she said.

But O’Byrne is still confident that the foundation will meet its goal by next summer – more people are running third-party events to benefit the foundation, such as this weekend’s Spin-A-Thon at the Nanaimo Athletic Club, and the emergency department staff have stepped up to help out – they’ve created a calendar featuring ER staff to help raise money for the foundation.

For more information about the foundation, please go to www.nanaimohospitalfoundation.com.