How Toilet Seats Changed the Way CGMH Foundation Raised Money
Have you ever looked at a toilet seat and wonder, What’s it made of? Where’s it made? How many iterations did it take for them to get the shape they have? How do they test it? Does someone get paid for sitting on toilet seats and reviewing them?
If you’re any normal person, you may have never asked yourself those questions. But it was quite the interesting experience for Jory Pritchard-Kerr, FAHP and Jesse Dees, CFRE of Collingwood General & Marine Hospital (CGMH) Foundation in Ontario, to learn about toilet seats and create part of a fundraising campaign for them.
Jory and Jesse were faced with a very unattractive fundraising campaign for patient room renovations, which included copper-infused toilet seats. It wasn’t ideal, much less the thought of talking to donors about toilets. But CGMH needed the funding, and ultimately, toilet seats became a fun talking point with donors.
“Everyone kept going back to the toilet seats,” Jesse says, when they talked to donors about the need of renovating patient rooms and equipping them with infection prevention technology. “In the end, we raised $1.2 million [CAD] for this campaign.”
How it Began
It was one of the most unexpected hospital staffers that approached Jory and Jesse with the idea of fundraising for state-of-the-art infection prevention technology to include in the patient room renovation campaign.
“The head of our facilities pitched the toilet seat campaign to us and the board chair,” Jory explains. “We’re a 77-bed hospital built in the 1950s. It’s old and crowded. Yet our facilities manager was keen on adding technology to patient rooms, starting with copper-infused toilet seats.”
The toilet seats weren’t the ultimate goal; it was a way to start conversations with potential donors on bringing CGMH rooms into this decade. However, the fundraising climate was tricky.
“No one really wanted to invest in renovating the current hospital when we’re planning to have a brand new hospital in eight years,” says Jesse. “But we needed to renovate patient rooms. Our facilities manager was the one who said it was important to make the hospital safe and comfortable for patients now.”
That argument stuck with donors.
“You don’t always need a doctor to be the face of your campaign,” says Jory. “You just need someone passionate. Our facilities manager was innovative, but no one would let him run with what he wanted to do. So he stood alongside us, and helped us raise $1.2 million dollars.”
Defying the Odds
“In Ontario, we raise money for everything,” Jory says. “We aren’t able to put out bonds to raise capital funding. Hospitals in Ontario have budgets that barely break even. So whenever we want to do something new, we’re on the hook for it.”
The toilet seat campaign proved to be a successful approach for the CGMH Foundation team. In their Convene AHP session, Jory and Jesse will talk through this plus two other unconventional but successful campaigns, and share their secret ingredients for success.
“We were the first hospital in North America to fully equip a patient room with infection control technology,” Jory says. “After that, we had lots of calls from people asking us how we did this.”
“And these weren’t big campaigns,” Jory says. “We did them on a shoestring budget. But we learned how to market them. We learned we needed to have an ‘expert witness’––and it’s not always the person you would expect!”
As a result, the CGMH Foundation team had major donors coming out of the woodwork.
“Our campaign was so unique, they came to us,” Jory says.
You don’t want to miss Jory and Jesse’s richly informative––and attention-grabbing––session, The Toilet Seat Campaign: How to Create a Case for Anything, happening at Convene AHP.