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The key to running a $500M philanthropic campaign

Creating strong donor relationships remains at the heart of TOH’s Campaign to Create Tomorrow

Ottawa Hospital Team
From left to right: Marion Crowe, Mike Runia, Bushra Saeed-Khan, Cameron Love, Tim Kluke, Roger Greenberg.

There’s a great deal of pride in Tim Kluke’s voice when he recalls a letter recently received by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

“The letter says that for the tenth consecutive year, The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) Foundation has been recognized as a high performer by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP),” says Kluke. The AFP’s High Performers list honors the top-performing and most efficient philanthropic organizations in the healthcare industry in the U.S. and Canada each year.

“This recognition helps us give assurances to our donors,” says the Foundation’s president and CEO. 

“It’s not about what we say, but what our industry says: That we’re an efficient charity and we’re very effective at what we do. For us, keeping that trust with our donors is something we’re very proud of.”

Donors are well-informed and, in some cases, want to be very involved in the giving process and that’s why it’s critical for TOH Foundation to be efficient with gifts donated to the hospital. The AHP High Performer recognition is based on total funds raised, the cost to raise a dollar, return on investment, and other key industry metrics. 

In addition to a focus on efficiency, Kluke says the Foundation has also adopted a donor-centric and personalized approach, which he views as essential in order to achieve their ambitious $500-million Campaign to Create Tomorrow.

“Each donor is unique. Sometimes it’s a company that has pulled together to make a meaningful, collective gift. Other times it’s an individual who is giving for very personal reasons. And very often, we see parents involving adult children in the decision to give. So, it really becomes a family commitment,” explains Kluke, a 35-year fundraising veteran who joined TOH Foundation in 2011. He’s previously led several other successful fundraising campaigns, including for the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in the early 2000s.

The Campaign to Create Tomorrow – the largest fundraising campaign in Ottawa’s history – aims to reach its goal by 2027 in support of world-leading research and the New Campus Development at Dow’s Lake. “This is the single largest investment in healthcare in our region in our lifetime and our opportunity to pay it forward for future generations,” says Kluke. 

Growing fundraising momentum across the city

The personalized approach favoured by the TOH Foundation has already yielded significant interest from across the community, with the campaign almost halfway to its $500-million goal.

Kluke says the Campaign to Create Tomorrow had to make a major shift in the early days of the campaign because of the pandemic. The team could no longer have these important meetings in person with donors. But the Foundation made the transition early on to video calls and donors were very receptive — in fact, more than $200 million was raised that way. “And to think that individuals of all ages were comfortable talking to us through a screen and contributed so generously speaks to the importance of the project,” he says.

Today, more conversations are in person but it’s those one-on-one conversations, however they happen, and the relationships being built that are key to the success of the campaign to date.  The goal is for the prospective donor to see the impact they truly can have on the future of healthcare in the region — for decades to come. “It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Kluke.

Anyone interested in learning more, Kluke says, can visit for more information.

“There’s an opportunity to reach out to us through that vehicle,” he says, “and we’d be happy to have a conversation with anyone about how you could be part of this incredible opportunity.”