How the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation Paved the Way for a Record Major Gift
When Anne and Sheldon Vogel announced their $50 million gift to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ, it was a wonderful surprise for the community. But for Tara Kelly, vice president of development, it was the culmination of more than a decade of relationship building.
A Strong Connection
The Vogels both had strong ties to the local area. Sheldon’s family owned Vogel’s Department Store, and Anne’s father was the chief of police for decades. Both were born at Monmouth Medical Center, which at the time was known as Monmouth Memorial Hospital.
“Anne and Sheldon fell in love,” said Tara. “They started their life here together.”
Even though Sheldon’s career and his eventual position as the CFO of Atlantic Records took them far away from Long Branch, the couple never lost sight of their hometown.
An Evolving Relationship
The Vogels’ relationship with the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation started about 15 years ago, when Anne volunteered on the committee for one of Monmouth Medical Center’s signature events, the Power of Pink. The event became an outlet for Anne to spend time with friends and family, and she began attending it every year. At the same time, the foundation staff got to know Anne better.
“It’s all about the relationship,” said Tara. “It's about instilling the power of philanthropy in someone who doesn't realize what that power could mean for their community.”
As the years went on, however, the Vogels’ relationship with Monmouth Medical Center started to evolve. As the couple needed the hospital more for their own medical care, their relationship extended beyond the foundation to physicians and hospital leadership. As the number of people who worked with the Vogels grew, there was a need for a synchronized approach between the foundation and the clinical staff.
A Coordinated Communication Strategy
When one of the Vogels was receiving care at the hospital, the foundation team made sure leadership and physicians were aware of the Vogels’ areas of interest for investment. Outside the hospital walls, Tara and her team organized numerous dinners and other conversations with the couple and hospital leaders to discuss the strategic initiatives ahead for Monmouth Medical Center and the community.
“It took an enormous amount of communication,” Tara said. “As a fundraiser, you have to be both the facilitator and the quarterback.”
A New Opportunity
In 2016, the Vogels made their first seven-figure gift, $1.5 million for a geriatric emergency department in honor of Anne and her family. At about the same time, Monmouth Medical Center started a strategic plan to expand the reach of their medical institutions and extend their services deeper into the community.
Sheldon was invited to be part of the feasibility study for new project, during which he expressed that he and Anne intended to include the medical center in their estate plan. Foundation staff schedule a series of meetings with Anne and Sheldon to explain the philanthropic impact of making a commitment then. They could be included in the strategic development of how their gift could contribute to healthcare for their community and also inspire investment from other donors.
A Vision of a Shared Future
When cultivating a relationship with a major donor, Tara believes it’s important to illustrate the power of philanthropy to transform communities. To do that, you need to know what interests that individual specifically.
“What would they be proud to invest in with your organization that would transcend it to a place that is far different than where it is now?” Tara said. “It could be a piece of equipment or a much-needed program that doesn't exist in a neighborhood. Figuring out what that is [for the donor] is very powerful.”
Sheldon was interested in the potential to transform the way that healthcare is delivered in the United States. In his time at Atlantic Records, he saw music delivery change from records to tapes to CDs to digital, and he was intrigued by the idea that healthcare could undergo a similar transformation.
As these conversations progressed, the CEO and president of the hospital was at the table for every conversation with Sheldon, so that he could learn about the organization’s commitment to shifting healthcare, and how that might be achieved at Monmouth Medical Center.
“It was the hospital’s commitment to the community that really solidified their trust,” Tara said.
This trust enabled the path toward greater philanthropic collaboration between the Monmouth Medical Center foundation and the Vogels. In 2018, Sheldon and Anne donated $16 million toward the capital campaign for the new medical campus. In 2020, the couple announced their $50 million gift, a record for a named gift to healthcare in New Jersey, in September 2020.
According to Glenn Miller, chief development officer for RWJBarnabas Health, the Vogel commitment is resonating throughout the entire system.
“Residents of New Jersey have seen gifts of this magnitude made in New York City, but rarely here," he said. "This spectacular investment from Sheldon and Anne will clearly have a massive impact on how we deliver care in their community, and leading philanthropists have taken note. The bar has been raised in our system and our state.”
An Ongoing Commitment to Giving
The team at the hospital foundation remains in close contact with the Vogels and has engaged trustees and other donors to thank the Vogels for their generosity, so that they can feel the impact of their gifts.
Through his gifts to Monmouth Medical Center, philanthropy has become central to Sheldon’s life.
“Someone asked Sheldon why he still goes to work every day,” Tara said. “And he said, ‘I go to work to make more money so I can give it away.’ That’s his purpose now.”
The foundation recognizes and thanks the incredible team that brought this gift to fruition: the physicians and nurses who have cared for the Vogels through the years; Robin Embry, director of donor relations; and Bill Arnold, president of the Southern Region RWJ Barnabas Health.