Earlier this month, Cayuga Health announced that it is partnering with Ithaca-based GiveGab to hold a 24-hour fundraiser to help replenish financial resources that have taken a significant hit due to the coronavirus.
The event, known as #CayugaGivingDay, will begin June 30 at midnight at cayugagivingday.org. The giving campaign will raise money for Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca and Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility in Montour Falls. The fundraiser was created in direct response to economic difficulties facing Cayuga Health facilities since COVID-19 canceled many sources of revenue, including elective surgeries and in-person galas.
“The main focus is supporting our COVID-19 Response Funds, which were established to really help both hospitals meet the needs of the community during the COVID-19 crisis,” explained Steve Savage, executive director of the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation. “In addition to that, there are opportunities for people to support the CMC Foundation Cancer Fund, because cancer never stops. … The main focus is ensuring that we have resources to be as prepared as possible for whatever may happen with the COVID-19 crisis.”
As GiveGab co-founder and CEO Charlie Mulligan explained, the nonprofit giving platform reached out to Cayuga Health to offer its services for free during the pandemic about two months ago.
“I used to be on the board of a hospital a long time ago, so I had a general idea of what makes money for hospitals,” Mulligan said. “It seemed relatively obvious to me that hospitals are going to be not doing well because the ways that they keep their doors open are not things that people are doing right now during the pandemic. And so, we also had a discussion at our board about ways we could help local groups, and one of our board members brought up specifically Cayuga Health.”
Savage said he was happy for the offer, as it came at just the right time.
“About the time we were contacted by GiveGab, we had made the difficult decision to cancel both the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation Gala, which is our marquee event of the year, and the Schuyler Health Foundation had canceled its November Splendor, which is their marquee event,” Savage said. “Both of those are significant sources of revenue for the foundations. And so, we needed to find an alternative.”
#CayugaGivingDay presents a new opportunity for GiveGab to venture into the healthcare sector for one of its many Giving Days, which are held for organizations throughout the world. Mulligan said while the format of the Giving Day is similar to many others before it, Cayuga Health’s had to be put together on a much tighter schedule than the usual four to six months.
“The one challenge that we face is time because I think we know that this is something that they need now and they don’t really have time to plan it for next spring or something like a normal Giving Day,” Mulligan said.
Despite that challenge, the Cayuga Health team was quickly on board and worked with GiveGab to make the day a reality.
“It’s exciting to have a team like them that has the immediate need and has jumped on it right away because Giving Days take a lot of work,” Mulligan said. “There’s a lot of planning and other stuff, and they’ve done such a great job of doing it really quickly, really professionally.”
Savage said that since the Giving Day was announced, he’s received a lot of support from the community, which is making him optimistic for the day’s success.
“People are excited. Yes, Giving Day is about raising money and supporting the hospital that way, but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the work that we have done and we will continue to do both at Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Medical Center,” he said. “And so, I think that message really resonates with people. And I think it’s going to be very successful for that very reason.”Mulligan, too, said he’s hopeful for the help the day will provide for Cayuga Health, as well as the experience it provides for GiveGab.
“It’s going to be great for them because I do think they’re going to raise a lot of money,” he said. “And I think it’s going to be really good for us because we get to constantly learn and grow other things, but we also get to give back and in an area where most of our employees live.”
Mulligan said that since COVID-19 hit, Cayuga Health facilities have helped to support the community, efforts that Savage said have been acknowledged and appreciated time and again by their communities.
“The support and the outreach that we’ve received during this time as we’ve worked as hard as we could to be prepared to care for those who are the sickest has been overwhelming,” Savage said. “We really are grateful to the community members who have gone out of their way to provide PPE, provide food and really make sure that our healthcare heroes understand that they have their backs.”
Savage encouraged residents to visit the website, cayugagivingday.org, on June 30 and sign up to be a champion, allowing them to engage with friends and family to encourage more participation.
“Make sure that they’re checking the website often because we are putting together a ton of engaging material videos from our providers, from community members, from grateful patients, as well as informational things to help the community understand what they can do to be prepared,” Savage said.
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