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Steve Savage and Steph Bailey Tiffany Bloss

Cayuga Health System hosted its first Giving Day to rally support for Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital during the COVID-19 outbreak and saw incredible results.

Steve Savage and Steph Bailey from Cayuga Medical Center Foundation, along with Tiffany Bloss from Schuyler Health Foundation, shared the story behind their combined efforts to pivot from their two in-person galas to a streamlined virtual Giving Day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cayuga Health System partnered with GiveGab to recover some of the financial loss incurred during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the Finger Lakes region in early March.

With a goal of $100,000 to help supplement what they typically brought in from their two annual galas, the Cayuga Health System was astonished to see the Giving Day raise over $155,000.

“This was our first experience with an exclusively online fundraising campaign, and we are thrilled with the outcome,” Steve Savage said in an interview published on WENY News. “It was wonderful to be able to present this day of giving to benefit our entire health care system. I would like to thank our many donors, sponsors, and our internal teams for their dedication and teamwork.”

Cayuga Health

In addition to supplementing missed income from canceled annual events, the Giving Day increased awareness of their ongoing needs and attracted new supporters. Of the 233 total donors, 42 were entirely new for Cayuga Health System.

By offering an easily accessible Giving Day site where donations of all sizes were accepted, teams from across the Cayuga Health system were able to promote equity among their departments and among donors throughout the community. And because donations made by check were added to the Giving Day totals, everyone with a credit card or checkbook could participate and add to the momentum of the day.

An important component to Cayuga Health System's fundraising efforts is the use of Grateful Patient Programs, which they described as "the alumni of their hospital". Through the Giving Day site, donors were prompted to self-identify as a Grateful Patient or Family Member, helping to streamline the donor stewardship process. Of the 233 total donors, 72 self-identified as a Grateful Patient or Family Member.

One of the many takeaways shared by the Cayuga Medical Center team was that, while galas are typically considered a fun celebration in support of a cause or fundraiser, Giving Days are much more mission-driven. Giving Day campaign messaging gets right to the heart of your mission and what needs to be done to support it. This was made evident by the increased activity seen during their Giving Day compared to the typical participation for their annual galas. The combined galas would take at least 8 months longer to plan and cost over ten times more than the Giving Day, which brought in thousands more in revenue!

Cayuga Health
facebook post from Brenda Webster Fitch

Tiffany Bloss, Director of the Schuyler Health Foundation, shared her experience using peer-to-peer fundraising to rally more awareness and support throughout the Giving Day: “Utilizing Peer-to-Peer Fundraising for our Giving Day not only allowed us to engage key stakeholders such as our Board of Directors, Physicians, and Hospital Staff, it allowed us to greatly expand the reach of our cause far beyond expectations. Our mission came directly from those who care the most – those having a personal and direct interest in our success.“

With only a couple of months to promote their first Giving Day, Cayuga Health System prioritized amplifying their marketing efforts with the help of a local PR firm and their amazing internal marketing team. Cayuga Health System's marketing professionals ran an incredible social media campaign and developed 47 pre-recorded videos to stream 24 hours worth of content throughout the day!

According to Steph Bailey, the Development Specialist at Cayuga Medical Center Foundation, “Video was the heart of our Giving Day. It's what connected us with our community in the best way possible without being able to gather in person.” Featured videos included a welcome message from their president, a live stream, "Mission Moments," and more.

When asked what they would do differently in the future, the Cayuga Health System team expressed excitement for the possibility of hosting a Giving Day that focuses solely on one of their service lines instead of COVID-19.

“Our community is tremendous! We were simply amazed and delighted by the generosity and support. On behalf of the entire Cayuga Health System and from the bottom of my heart, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude,” Cayuga Health CEO Dr. Martin Stallone said in an interview with WENY. “I would also, once again, like to thank Mr. Mulligan and the GiveGab team for their partnership and teamwork leading to the success of this fundraising campaign.”

We hope this success story inspires more hospital foundations to consider making a Giving Day part of their annual fundraising and engagement strategy!

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