Community partnerships, by definition, recognize the power of collaborative solutions to intractable challenges. When health systems decide to engage with outside organizations, whether in a funding capacity or in a more active role, they acknowledge a mutual benefit to all parties. They also create the context for joint fundraising activities between organizational collaborators.
Joint fundraising initiatives leverage the brands, expertise, and programmatic contributions of two organizations into a case for support that is often stronger than the same story told by only one organization. Institutional funders and individual philanthropists alike are drawn to support initiatives that show a heightened commitment to creating impact at a larger scale, a notion exemplified by partnership-driven approaches.
Health system philanthropy teams that agree to fundraise in collaboration with external partners can do so within a range of commitment levels. It is possible to co-create and co-brand a strong case for support, while otherwise maintaining relatively independent day-to-day fundraising activities. More ambitious initiatives will involve joint cultivation and solicitation of donors.
Regardless of the scope of activity, both organizations must define their roles and agree to certain parameters at the outset of the relationship. Navigating shared donor relationships, and determining how to appropriately split funds from joint gifts, will be much more efficient if these eventualities have been planned for.
Case in brief: Children’s National Hospital and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital collaborate to raise funds for early childhood behavioral health initiative
- Children’s National is a 323-bed pediatric hospital located in Washington, DC
- MedStar Georgetown is a 609-bed teaching and research hospital located in Washington, DC
Children’s National Hospital and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital are located just a few miles apart in Washington, DC. They share a goal of improving early childhood behavioral health in their region. They also understand that the challenges are too big for any single organization to solve. The hospitals began collaborating and combining their unique strengths in 2012, and then launched their programmatic partnership known as the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) in 2015.
ECIN is funded by philanthropy, raised through the combined efforts of the hospitals’ development teams. Children’s National and MedStar Georgetown began their fundraising collaboration with a seed grant request from a private foundation, which generated a multi-year, seven-figure investment to launch the initiative. Since then, the two teams have jointly crafted multiple grant proposals and share in ongoing cultivation and stewardship of their institutional and individual funders.
The collaborative efforts of these two organizations have helped ECIN drive impact and expand its reach. In addition to funding new pediatric behavioral health interventions, philanthropy enabled ECIN to hire more than twenty programmatic and clinical staff since its inception.