BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Barbara James, the executive director of Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach, said she’s always believed in giving back and mentoring. Now, she’s sharing her knowledge on how the hospital was able to pivot and fundraise successfully in a very trying time.
“I realized almost immediately that we needed to engage the community,” said James. “I am a seasoned fundraiser, so I have done this for 35 years.”
James said she’s proud of her team and their early efforts to engage donors during a very difficult time.
“We really studied,” she said. “We have been able to raise well over a million (dollars).”
Most recently, the hospital’s latest virtual event in March on its own raised a record breaking nearly $1 million.
“We did a lot of surveys,” she said. “I surveyed our attendees of other events and said ‘what did you like about our last event? If we went virtual, would you attend? What would you like to see?’”
One idea that was sparked from that survey was a party box for virtual events. It’s delivered directly to families attending the event.
“It has been wildly popular,” she said.
Dawn Edwards is among those who attended the virtual hospital events.
“We made lemonade out of lemons, and the hospital did a fabulous job,” she said.
The connection, even from afar, helps get her through the pandemic.
“They really know how to get everyone to bond together,” said Edwards.
James believes it was the studying of past events that made a difference. She also said the hospital decided to focus on entertainment and engagement during virtual events.
“That they wouldn’t just be having an extension of their very long zoom work days,” she said. “We attended a lot of events with different platforms and learned quickly.”
She said she’s now getting calls from CEO’s of other organizations asking how she did it.
“One of the things I really feeling strongly about is sharing, so I have taken and mentored and shared our learnings,” said James. “I feel strongly that I am a steward for the department of generosity for Bethesda Hospital and that is part of it to lift all of us.”
Now more than ever, she said organizations should look to help each other with find success. Her biggest piece of advice for those struggling to fundraise, look at how you were engaging donors before and take the time to survey and research.
“Know who you are,” said James. “Know your bandwidth. Know what your mission is.”