AHP Connect Member Profile - William Mountcastle
William (Bill) Mountcastle
President and Principal Consultant
AHP member since 2000
Bill Mountcastle is a health care philanthropy strategist whose passion is to help health organizations with capital campaign planning and management, strategic planning and grateful patient and physician engagement for fundraising results. He has three decades of experience in fundraising, rising to senior leadership positions at leading multi-specialty academic medical centers and research universities with sophisticated and successful development programs. His consulting and coaching have offered clients the insights and assistance needed to establish best practice philanthropy programs that create healthy philanthropic results. He is actively involved in major gift training for small and large organizations. He effectively serves as a consultant, coach and catalyst with health care organizations across the United States.
What inspired your career in health care philanthropy?
It was a family member’s patient experience at the Cleveland Clinic that inspired my health care philanthropy career. I was already a fundraiser for another field, but after I saw firsthand the miraculous power of strong physicians, clinicians and research, I was motivated to change the direction of my fundraising career. The experience made me want to be a part of the difference that health care philanthropy was making in my life, my family member’s life, in my community and beyond.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I get to work with amazing clients of all sizes and from all types of health care organizations. There’s no one specific type of client, which makes developing solutions and ideas exciting because every situation is different. Every client has different expectations, needs, philanthropists and services, so I get to oversee projects of all kinds.
Without question, the life of a consultant can be fast-paced and dynamic. Partnering, problem-solving and coaching are very rewarding. To know that my consulting company, Health Giving, is making a difference and changing the health care world is very rewarding for me. I like the Albert Einstein quote, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." I believe it relates to what I aim to accomplish with my clients.
Consulting is the process of helping people develop the capacity to think about things differently. Whether that may be thinking about their challenges, opportunities, relationships, donor interactions, fundraising services or strategic plan, it’s about inspiring them to think about their future in new and creative ways, so they can accomplish their goals and create healthy philanthropic results.
Have you noticed any recent trends in health care philanthropy?
I see two trends impacting health care philanthropy. The first is the continued transformation to value-based health care. It’s the movement of maximizing value for patients and achieving the best outcomes at the lowest cost. I see many parallels between the fundamental changes in patient care and in health care fundraising. I wrote about this in my 2017 book, Fundraising for Hospitals: Value-Based Healthcare Philanthropy. Just like value-based care focuses on value, not volume, we in fundraising need to focus on people, not money. This maximizes the gratifying giving experiences philanthropists have when they support our health organizations.
The second trend we must pay attention to is how hospitals are shifting away from inpatients and focusing on outpatient ambulatory settings and home care. AHP Board member and Chief Philanthropy Officer at VNA Health Group Bridget Murphy and I are presenting at AHP’s International Conference in San Diego this October. Our presentation is called, “Home is Where the Heart (And Your Grateful Patient) Is!” If you think about traditional health care philanthropy and grateful patient fundraising, patients and families would spend a great deal of their time being treated inside the hospital where they got to know their care providers well. Patients just aren’t in our hospitals for long periods anymore. There are outpatient procedures now for things that were once very complex. Advanced technologies, telemedicine and even smartphones are changing the way health care is provided. As health care philanthropy professionals, we must think about this dynamic and figure out how we are going to continue to build relationships in this new era.
Is there a campaign or project that you helped a client with that sticks out to you?
There have been several successful campaigns since we started in 2013. One that is about to close is with an academic medical center, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and their “Shine On” capital campaign. The University celebrated their 40th anniversary and launched a $40 million campaign — the first in their history.
For four decades, NEOMED has provided best-in-class medical education and scientific research, and they’ve helped patients at their bedsides and in their communities. Our Health Giving consulting team came in at the beginning of their campaign planning and conducted their feasibility study. We are very proud now to be celebrating with them the success of their largest fundraising effort to date with more than $40 million being raised. They are acknowledging the generosity of many alumni and community leaders. The largest gift, $7.5 million to the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine, is the largest privately funded grant for mental health ever given in Ohio. Student scholarships, faculty support, enhanced programs, improved facilities and cutting-edge medical research were all made possible with this extraordinary campaign. I was proud to be a part of it.
Can you give us an idea of what to expect from your upcoming webinar, “Effective Ways to Retain and Motivate Your Top Fundraisers?”
Talented fundraising professionals are seeking careers that will make them happy and keep them motivated. There has been an ongoing challenge to retain talented fundraisers in health care philanthropy. My co-presenter Mark Cotleur, the Senior Vice President of Fund Development at Sisters of Charity Health System, and I intend to present on ways to motivate, retain and keep fundraisers as top performers on your team. We will discuss how to set clear expectations, how to create career growth experiences, how to provide training, how to help with the work-life balance and how to reward for great work. For example, major gift officers tend to function independently. We plan to talk about how to build a team and develop systems that support your major gift officer’s strategy as well as support the entire team, so everyone can have those career growth experiences.
How has AHP been a resource for you in your career?
As a young professional starting in the career, I knew AHP would help me find mentors. I wanted to surround myself with accomplished professionals and be given experiences that I could learn from. As my career has progressed, it’s interesting to me that the things I was motivated by then are still things that motivate me now. I continue to learn fresh and exciting ideas from incredible people, attend valuable educational conferences and hear people say things about this industry that I haven’t thought of. They urge me to think in innovative ways.
In terms of professional associations, AHP has been very rewarding because of its members, the mentors and the learning experiences I have received. I think it’s important to be involved with AHP and I have nothing but good things to say about my AHP experience. It extends your knowledge by tapping into the larger community of professionals who also work in the health philanthropy field. I have seen its value travel with me as I’ve been with multiple organizations and now as a consultant.
What advice would you give to someone new to health care philanthropy?
A challenge I have yet to master is the balance of professional life and personal life. On one hand, it’s great that fundraisers have a strong passion to make an impact and set themselves apart. On the other hand, we must remember that it’s a job and we need to find time to separate our work from our home. In my career, I have tried to avoid checking work emails on the weekend when I’m spending time with my family. I try to prioritize and promote work-life balance. Stepping away from your work allows you to be rejuvenated and can benefit your professional and personal life. It’s not always easy, but if I could give someone advice it would be to strive to find the balance between the two as much as you can.