As the community initially struggled to get back on its feet, there were fears that local companies, individual donors, and other program funders would be reluctant or simply unable to provide philanthropic support at pre-COVID levels.
Together with the uncertainty and demands the pandemic was forcing upon nonprofit community health care providers, it made for a worrying time.
But for Berta Cabrera, it’s making opportunity.
As Executive Director at SSJ Health Foundation and St. John Bosco Clinic (SJBC), Cabrera says that while the organization never came close to a make-or-break situation, “We did recognize early on that new ideas would be needed to keep our crucial funding channels open to continue serving our vulnerable clients.”
Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph (SSF) of St. Augustine, Fla., for nearly 30 years, SJBC has been offering essential care to Miami’s most vulnerable communities. They achieve their mission through the fundraising efforts of SSJ Health Foundation, community outreach, and with the active participation of community partners, volunteer doctors, nurses, and support staff.
“The interesting thing about people’s interest in giving money, it has to be triggered by something,” says Cabrera. “We knew we needed to show our donors exactly where and how their dollars are being spent in making a measurable difference in the lives of our patients – and in our community.”
One Quarter at a Time
To do so, the organization set a strategy by which they would focus on the top most health care issues facing the community and then break those identified areas down into bite-sized quarterly campaigns.
During the first quarter of 2021, donors were invited to pledge toward a $10,000 goal to keep the community “heart healthy.” This campaign targeted exactly what was needed for its patients, from the rolls of paper required in running an EKG to supplying the dispensary with the right range of specialty medications for its cardiac patients.
Fueled by donor support, the SJBC has long offered free cardiology care, but they used this period specifically to promote American Heart Month among its donor base as a way of bringing awareness to the need for continued supporting of the more than 1,000 patients who receive cardiac care here each year.
After all, according to Cabrera, among their patients, 33 percent have high blood pressure, 39 percent have high cholesterol, and 27 percent were diagnosed with both hypertension and hyperlipidemia, two major risk factors for heart disease.
Starting April 1, the second-quarter campaign is focusing on “minority health.”
“We see a lot of minority patients, vulnerable individuals, and so our goal is to educate the community on the issues of disparities on assets and outcomes.”
The goal for this campaign is also to achieve $10,000 in donor pledges to address health outcomes for minorities and also how to reach those who are most in need due to limited access to health care.
“Reimagining our approach to fundraising has allowed us to better focus on our mission, and in the process to better serve our patients because in so many instances, we are really are the last stop for people who can’t access care anywhere else,” she added.
So how’s it working? The degree of satisfaction among patients is higher than ever. In last quarter, 97 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed with services and staff. Here’s some of what patients had to say in a recent anonymous satisfaction survey:
“Health has such an impact on all people and for those of us who seek care at the clinic, we are grateful for the guidance, understanding, patience, and the targeted support the clinic and its personnel and volunteers offer us.”
“I am always received with kindness and respect here. All staff works with love and professionalism. It is a blessing to have your services available in our community.”