Reaching their full fundraising potential: Canberra Hospital Foundation success story

The Canberra Hospital Foundation supports the vital work of public hospitals in Canberra, Australia. It helps raise funds for new and innovative medical technology and equipment, disease research, refurbishments for patient comfort, and programmes like dog and music therapy.

The Foundation was originally established as part of government—an administrative arm of ACT Health. This meant they were precluded from holding a Charitable Collections Licence and engaging in any active fundraising.

“That greatly limited our ability to raise funds. We had to rely on donors to come to us; we were in passive mode,” says Helen Falla, CEO of the Canberra Hospital Foundation.

Against these odds, the Foundation was still attracting a lot of positive, unsolicited support from the community, Hospital patients and their families wanted to give back, and loyal businesses chose to contribute by running third-party fundraising events each year. But to reach their full fundraising potential, the Foundation knew they had to operate differently.

“To be able to better support the hospital and community centres in the public space we needed to move to an independent entity and be registered as a charity,” says Helen.

“We needed to prove [to ACT Health] that there would be significantly more opportunity that we could leverage if we had a strategic fundraising program in place.”

The Canberra Hospital Foundation sought Global Philanthropic’s expertise in research and fundraising strategy to inform the case for moving to an independent entity. The Foundation needed evidence that the move would be viable and, if it was, how it could be implemented for the best efficiency and effectiveness.

Global Philanthropic worked closely with Helen and her team, as well as the Board, to undertake:  

  • A benchmarking study—research and analysis of the Foundation’s current resourcing and philanthropic revenue against peers over a three-year period.  
  • Workshops to develop the Foundation’s strategic fundraising plan and their Case for Support to ACT Health.
  • Review and development of their draft strategic fundraising plan. 

“Global did meticulous research with invaluable information that provided a clear guide on how to move forward,” says Helen.

“Their strength was in the quality of their research, the way they communicated with us, their innate knowledge of philanthropy and how to tease out what it was that we needed.”

“They spent an awful lot of time listening to us, gaining a full understanding about who we were, what our identity was, and what we already meant to the community. I think that was really important.”

The evidence and analysis provided by Global enabled the Canberra Hospital Foundation to successfully pitch their case for change to ACT Health. The new entity, a registered charity, launched in February 2020. 

The devastating summer bushfires and the impact of COVID-19 could have easily derailed their 2020 marketing and fundraising plans. But, as Helen notes, the groundwork they did with Global held them in “good stead” to meet these challenges head-on and quickly adapt to the rapidly changing donor landscape.

“We’re doing well in a difficult situation. The invaluable information, especially around staff structure, that Global provided to us to create a cohesive team, really shone through,” she says.

Since relaunching, the Canberra Hospital Foundation has been able to engage directly with their passionate supporter network for the first time. They’ve run a successful tax appeal, as well as a campaign to facilitate giving between the community and healthcare workers during COVID-19. They’re preparing for their first Giving Day in November 2020.

“The experience [working with Global] was one of learning, with extremely valuable and beneficial results—one we can recommend wholeheartedly.”

Elissa Hill, Elissa Hill Communications