Volume 91, Issue 50

Wednesday, November 26, 1997



Charity Calling: giving a new ring to charitable donations

©London Health Sciences Foundation
THEY'RE GOING THE DISTANCE. The Labatt 24-Hour Relay is one of the oldest fund-raisers for London health-care. London Health Sciences Foundation has a new way to raise funds – its telephone program.

By Carolyn Wong

Gazette Writer

Charities have reason to thank Alexander Graham Bell.

For years the telephone has been an effective tool for raking in cash. Foundation Western and the London Health Sciences Foundation are just two organizations which contact people over the phone for fund-raising initiatives, but volunteers are not using the average telemarketing system where people receive one annoying phone call after another.

Joanne Cole, director of development at Foundation Western, said their telephone program introduces a way to speak personally with the potential donors, receive feedback and provide information about the university.

An initial letter, which is sent out to alumni, details a fund-raising campaign involving their former faculty. In the letter, it is also explained that the foundation will be calling within a certain time period, to either secure a pledge or receive an indication of a declined pledge. This way, when the foundation calls, alumni are prepared to answer any questions concerning the program or any other inquiry regarding the university. Cole says this program is more effective than telemarketing because there is already a relationship between the foundation and the potential donors before a call is made.

"The foundation, in some ways, acts as the public relations [service] of the university, in that they can connect people to the deans of various faculties, they can send out information on the university to those who have children who plan on attending Western and the callers can generally provide answers to every question," Cole explains.

A joint venture between the London Health Sciences Foundation and St. Joseph's Foundation involves a phone program where administrators share the same computers and software, but each charity has different donors.

Jan New, development associate of annual programs at the London Health Sciences Foundation, says the program was started in 1994 and run manually, but in October 1996 it became automated. The program is run much the same as the one run by Foundation Western and raises over $3 million in funds per year, which go directly back into the health care system.

The only drawback New points out is the program is very expensive to run, but it helps a great deal that the foundation shares the equipment and administration with another foundation. Even though it can be costly, it has been very successful in obtaining equipment needed by the hospital. A fluoroscope, costing $1 million, was purchased and is now being used to cure heart rhythm abnormalities. The foundation is also working on raising $2.5 million for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine for the Westminster Campus, to reduce the year-long waiting list for use of this equipment at the London Health Sciences Centre on Western's campus.

New says, "London hospitals have always been regarded as high quality hospitals. With the help of the phone program in purchasing equipment for the hospitals, it looks like the quality of health care in London will never suffer, despite government cuts."

People are very concerned about health care and Canadians really know how to open their hearts when they see there is a need, New says.

To Contact The Focus Department: gazfocus@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997