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Moses Cone takes on fundraising

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By Todd Cohen

GREENSBOR0, N.C. — Since opening its doors in 1953, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro has grown to a five-hospital system that employs 7,500 people and last year handled more than 467,000 patient visits.

But except for funds the Cone family donated in creating the hospital, and for fundraising at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville, which   became part of the health system in 2001, Moses Cone Health System does not have an endowment or a tradition of fundraising.

That is going to change: To help cover the cost of care for uninsured patients, and to tap donors, including those already giving to health care, Moses Cone will begin soliciting charitable contributions for the first time ever.

The system has formed a fund development office and named fundraising veteran Bill Porter as its vice president for fund development.

Porter, former vice chancellor for development and public relations at the N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, says his first steps will be to set up the fundraising office and systems, hire staff, get to know people in the health system and the community, and begin to develop goals and a “case” for raising money.

The initial fundraising focus, he says, will target foundations and corporations, and possibly larger gifts from individuals who have had a long-term relationship with the health system.

Launching a larger effort to raise money from individuals will take longer, he says.

“I just don’t see us doing a lot of traditional annual giving, a traditional broad-based mail program, for a number of years,” he says. “That’s well down the road.”

He also may consider organizing special events to raise money to support particular programs within the health system.

Porter says this summer he likely will hire a staff member to handle research and grantwriting.

He also plans to work with Moses Cone’s controller to identify donors who have made gifts to the health system, find out how their funds are being used, and get to know the donors if they are still alive.       

“What we would we looking to do is build a broad-based program that would raise funds from all sources, for annual operating support, for projects like technology, and to build an endowment,” Porter says.

“It’s going to take time to put that in place.”

Moses Cone also operates a program known as HealthServe Community Health Clinic that provides care for indigent patients, and raises money in the community to support its services.

Overall, including the clinic, Moses Cone last year provided $75.1 million in uncompensated care, both for uninsured patients and to cover the gap between its costs and reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare.

Porter, who has spent 30 years as a fundraising professional, including the past two working as a fundraising consultant, says the new fundraising effort at Moses Cone represents a rare opportunity to “create a program from square one that has the potential for a significant impact for this community and region.”

The key, he says, is “to really articulate the case and figure out how gift income from the philanthropic side can fit into the other income streams for the health system.”

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