Beyond Grant-Making: Raising Awareness, Engaging Community, and Diversifying Funds
Monday, September 12, 2016
Posted by: Rosa Mitsumasu Scotti
Raising funds and awareness has been part of community health from the beginning: visionaries advocated for quality health care for the nation’s medically underserved communities, building the foundation for early Neighborhood Health Centers . Today, with an ever-evolving health care landscape, Community Health Centers (CHCs) depend on strong networks and sustainable business models; part of the sustainability strategy consists of having a culture of development.
Oftentimes, development is primarily associated with fundraising, but it is much more than that! Development at its core is about (internal and external) community engagement and raising awareness of an organization’s mission and goals. Through development, CHCs can inform individuals and encourage them to raise their voices, fundraise, allocate funding to community health initiatives, and make a statement about the need to address health care access and affordability in the US.
Despite its history of advocacy and community-based roots, there is a philanthropic disparity in today’s CHC community. Some organizations have sophisticated community engagement and fundraising strategies, while others rely on few sources of funding with even fewer resources allocated to development staff, if any. However, CHCs can start somewhere, and usually, that “somewhere” is within the local community.
Russ Sondker, Marketing and Resource Manager at Community Health Care in Pierce County, WA , started fundraising 15 years ago with a Development Advisory Council: “[We] started by meeting with politicians and community leaders, we talked about our clinic and gave a tour, eventually we had more people touring and at the end of the tour they asked ‘How can I help?’”. This is when Sondker discovered that people were moved by their mission and started mailing a quarterly newsletter sharing their mission and story: “We need to engage our supporters because they aren’t coming in as patients. We need to share our mission, vision and programming costs.”
Technology has made it easier for organizations to raise awareness, cultivate relationships, and fundraise for a cause. With low-cost online fundraising tools, as well as local and national events, CHCs can participate in effective fundraising. CHCs can set up a PayPal account, use social media to promote the cause, or activate a “Donate” button on Facebook to collect contributions directly through the CHC’s social media presence.
Northwest Regional Primary Care Association (NWRPCA) is preparing for #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Follow NWRPCA on social media and at www.nwrpca.org to learn more about member CHCs’ development strategies for #GivingTuesday on November 29, 2016.
 ChroniCles, “Health Centers Then & Now” http://www.chcchronicles.org/histories
 Community Health Care - https://www.commhealth.org/