Hospital seeks new philanthropists

Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH) is reaching out to the community in a whole new way. The hospital is using the Help program, an initiative designed to raise $60 million to add to its capital expansion budget.
Teresa Vasilopoulos is president of the TEGH foundation. She said the program’s objective is to reach out and get more people to consider philanthropy.
“Traditionally hospitals and foundations tend to focus on the usual suspects,” Vasilopoulos said. “We want to get people who have got their wealth in Canada.”
Instead of focusing on donations from existing philanthropic organizations, TEGH wants to turn people into new donors. According to Vasilopoulos, the hospital foundation will look to the diverse groups found throughout East York and Toronto.
Targeting new Canadians and “champions” who are influential in their neighbourhoods, TEGH is hoping to educate leaders who will in turn urge their communities to help the hospital that serves them.
Vasilopoulos said that TEGH is well recognized throughout Toronto for its excellent service to one of the city’s most diverse communities.
“We’re the only hospital in the country to have won an Order of Excellence and we’ve had nine years of fiscal responsibility,” she said.
According to Vasilopolous, the biggest challenge facing TEGH is shifting donors’ attention from larger hospitals.
“Advertising for community hospitals are often overshadowed by downtown hospitals,” Vasilopoulos said. “We needed a way to stand out and get attention over to the community.”
TEGH has called in Carlson Marketing, an advertising group that has agreed to promote the Help program for free.
Jennifer Trant is the vice-president of Client Services for Carlson Marketing. She said the chance to advertise the Help program presented opportunities for both parties.
“I guess it seemed like a great fit,” Trant said. “We became engaged with the hospital after learning of the contributions they make to the community and we decided we want to be a part of that.”
Trant said advertising for a smaller brand has its advantages.
“It takes less resources to reach out to a diverse population,” Trant said. “This allows us to be more cutting edge and forward-moving with our advertising.”
Carlson Marketing used a flash mob at Bay and King Streets last month to grab attention in an “out of the box” way.
“We also designed a new logo and we are advertising on billboards and in bus shelters,” Trant said. “We want to create an iconic symbol.”
According to Trant, Carlson is keeping the next phases of its advertising “secret” until they are implemented.
TEGH will be using the money to expand outpatient services, parking and build a new patient centre with 250 beds. Vasilopoulos believes the expansion will go beyond the hospital and enrich the community as well.
“This is an investment into the infrastructure, our community’s infrastructure,” Vasilopoulos said. “This will give the areas around the hospital a lift.”
TEGH has already raised $40 million and hopes to raise the remaining $20 million as soon as possible. There is no projected deadline for the program’s completion.