University Hospital Foundation
Why is a 40 under 40 winner
- Sean was the organizational lead for the University Hospital Foundation’s 2021 Heart Pledge Day. The campaign raised over $510,000.00, exceeding the goal of $350,000.00 and setting a new organization record
- His personal fundraising volunteerism has included setting a Guinness World Record for playing in the World’s Longest Soccer Game (36 players played for 33 hours) to raise money for the Cross Cancer Institute, cycling 1500 kilometers for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and running a half-marathon for mental health
- The UHF had never launched a Matching Gift campaign. In FY21, Sean collaborated with the Major Gifts and Corporate Giving teams to introduce five Matching Gift campaigns. In total, $105,000.00 in Matching Gifts from these donors were leveraged to raise more than $1 million
Q & A
1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?
Before joining the Alberta Cancer Foundation in 2009, everything started with a personal love for fundraising. In 2008, I registered for the Ride to Conquer Cancer-a challenging event that pushed me to ride more than 200 kilometers and raise $2,500 for cancer research. I didn't think I could raise the money, and I was terrified by the ride. The distance. The hills. How was it even possible? Then I saw more than 2,000 riders at the start line. We road together, across the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Alberta, and I was so moved by that sense of community–that it would truly take thousands of us, peddling together, to save lives. That ride was the hardest thing I had ever done, but it was also the most rewarding; its something I wish even more people got to experience.
2. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.
Early in my career, I was at a meeting, and we were reviewing the results of a few direct mail appeals. One appeal in particular had executed a test to determine which package would generate the best response. I remember thinking one version was obviously better and would most definitely win. But it didn't and it wasn't even close. The realization I had in that moment was so profound–that it doesn't matter what I would respond to, that the data tells the story–completely changed my outlook and approach to fundraising across all disciplines. I now apply a data-driven, donor-centric, and strategic approach to all fundraising programs I manage.
3. What piece of advice would you give aspiring 40 Under 40 recipients?
There's so much! Everyone's journey in philanthropy will be different but for me, having a strong connection to the cause has been a huge motivating factor to do my best. I have learned from the best in the industry and stayed patient throughout my 12-year journey in healthcare philanthropy. Treat everyone with the same level of respect, compassion, and understanding whether its a colleague, supervisor, donor, vendor, or volunteer. And data–become an expert in data. If it matters, measure it. Then blend the art with the science of fundraising. But I'm a talker–these questions are best answered in person or on a call. So find me on LinkedIn.