Non-traditional fundraising methods produce results

Booster ShotTraditional methods of fundraising are well established – direct mail, planned giving and gala events. The non-traditional? Try dressing your Executive Director in a ridiculous costume to dance for potential donors in a music video posted on the Internet.

The VMC Foundation is many things – traditional is not often one of them.

By now, we hope you’ve had a chance to watch the “Give a Booster Shot 2010” launch video, featuring our favorite VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder. The video, available for viewing at www.giveaboostershot.org and YouTube, was produced to kick-off our annual fundraising campaign that asks employees of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital system to donate to the VMC Foundation. Within a week of posting the video online it earned more than 1,000 views (mostly via the giveaboostershot.org website, which aren’t counted in the YouTube tally).

The video features Chris Wilder dressed as the “Give a Booster Shot” mascot: surprising, dancing for and sometimes confounding VMC staff during an impromptu tour of Valley Medical Center. The idea behind the video was simple – create something fun and joyous that would drive traffic to the campaign website and spread delight among employees.

Humor and delight, in fact, have been central to the VMC Foundation’s fundraising strategy for years, particularly when it comes to asking for money from hospital staff. From producing fun-filled events like “VMC Idol” (yes, exactly what it sounds like), to Chris’ often amusing “Wilder Side of Health” blog, the Foundation believes that a campaign dedicated to raising money from hospital staff must also serve to improve employee morale.

“We wanted to do something that would make people laugh and take them out of the daily grind,” said Wilder. “Working at VMC is tough right now. We have more patients than ever, and are dealing with some challenging budget cuts.”

The video did in fact make people laugh and feel good about working at VMC. A three-person crew followed Chris as he walked through the hospital for an afternoon, surprising staff everywhere he went. In addition, the Foundation recruited existing hospital employee donors to participate in three dance routines; each featuring a group of doctors, nurses and protective services officers. Those scenes were choreographed by Ian Leonard, a San Jose-based actor and director for San Jose Children’s Musical Theatre.

“People were very excited to participate,” said Wilder. “They helped to create a lot of buzz for the campaign.”

The video premiered at a special donor reception at Santana Row’s Sino Restaurant on April 27. By the end of the following week, after Give a Booster Shot was officially launched, over $15,000 in donations had already been raised.

“We’re not sure exactly how much of that was due to the video, but judging from how many people have told me that they loved it, it’s safe to say the video has made a big impact,” said Wilder.