Presbyterian eyes $35M drive

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 1903, Presbyterian Hospital and its School of Nursing were created to meet Charlotte’s growing need for health care.

Today, the 593-bed regional medical center is the flagship hospital of Presbyterian Healthcare, a subsidiary of Winston-Salem-based Novant Health that also operates a children’s hospital, orthopedic hospital, cancer center, surgery centers, long-term-care and home-care services and a satellite hospital in Matthews.

And the nursing school awards diplomas to 170 nurses a year.

Supporting those nonprofit operations, and community groups they work with, is the $21 million-asset Presbyterian Hospital Foundation, which has raised $38 million since it was created in 1980.

To celebrate Presbyterian’s 100th anniversary by addressing its priority needs, the foundation plans in late 2003 to launch a $35 million fundraising campaign.

Funds will be used to build a new women’s center and support its community programs, increase the nursing school’s $11 million endowment and support the hospital’s cancer, orthopedic and cardiovascular care programs.

The foundation’s fundraising strategy focuses on individuals, particularly patients and their families, and on a new effort to secure planned gifts and bequests.

“What we try to do is get people thinking about philanthropy,” says Rusty Brink, the foundation’s executive director.

 The foundation has launched a “gift-annuity” program that lets donors create a gift and receive an annual payment until their death, when the gift goes to the foundation.

Last year, the foundation received its first gift annuity, says Brink, a 34-year fundraising veteran who works closely with financial advisers and lawyers to encourage them to talk about Presbyterian with their clients.

The foundation raised $3 million last year, including nearly $500,000 for its annual fund through direct-mail solicitations to existing donors, and through two special events – a golf tournament in the spring and a “Techs and Cops” hockey game in the fall co-sponsored by Microsoft.

This year’s golf tournament, to be held May 9 at Carmel Country Club, aims to net $165,000, says Brink.

The foundation also raises money through grants. As part of its Families First initiative to serve victims of domestic abuse, for example, The Duke Endowment in Charlotte recently awarded $454,000 over three years to the foundation, which is working closely on the initiative with its Novant counterparts – Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem and Thomasville Medical Center in Davidson County – which also received grants.

After joining Presbyterian four years ago, one of Brink’s first jobs was raising nearly $2 million for Presbyterian’s Buddy Kemp Caring House, which offers psycho-social services for cancer patients and their families.

Two years ago, he himself used those services during recovery from surgery at Presbyterian for prostate cancer – an experienced that deepened his resolve to help people get involved in philanthropy, he says.

“Our hope,” he says, “is to encourage people and open their eyes to what they can do to help others.”

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