CommonSpirit Health Philanthropy comes together for a day of education and celebration

Chicago, Ill. (February 18, 2020) – CommonSpirit Health®’s Philanthropy Education Summit Reimagined was held February 13 in an innovative “virtual venue” format. Bringing together more than 300 philanthropy professionals across 22 states, the event featured a live audience at Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, Calif. and more than 20 coordinated watch sites across the country.


The summit represents a significant investment in the professional development of each staff member across all of the 79 CommonSpirit Health affiliated foundations.

“The summit is near and dear to me because it is the one time each year we come together as a single group with the common goal of building healthy communities wherever we are,“ noted Fred Najjar, Executive Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer for CommonSpirit Health. “We take this time to improve our skills and knowledge through the day’s speakers and celebrate our accomplishments through the Phillies Awards.”

Following a reflection by Tessie Guillermo, chair of the CommonSpirit Health Board of Stewardship Trustees, Presidents and CEOs Lloyd Dean and Kevin Lofton began by congratulating those assembled for raising a total of $217 million across the system in 2019 and for being recognized as a Top Performer by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. They underscored the critical role philanthropy has in providing a wide range of programs and services including medical research, patient-assistance funds, scholarships, and programs to improve the health of entire communities.

Keynote speaker Dan Pallotta, an entrepreneur, humanitarian activist, and best-selling author of Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine their Potential, delivered an energizing address challenging society’s perception of philanthropic organizations and how they operate. His message advocated the importance of innovation and investment by non-profits in achieving the dream of making a greater social impact.

Touching on many of Pallotta’s points, Deirdre Saulet,PhD, our Expert Partner from The Advisory Board Company shared the latest research on the state of healthcare philanthropy, its challenges, and opportunities. She presented what she views as two clear paths forward, specifically addressing nurturing the affinity of our grateful patients and their family members.


The culmination of the day’s program was the Phillies Awards, a system-wide celebration that recognized the efforts and accomplishments the foundations achieved in the prior year.

The awards were in the categories of: Quality Improvement, Largest Gift Intention, Model Stewardship Award, Top Performing Division, Largest Philanthropic Gift, and Foundation of the Year.

The nominees for Quality Improvement Award were:

• CHI St. Alexius Health (Carrington, N.D.)
• Dignity Health Foundation - Inland Empire (San Bernardino, Calif.)
• French Hospital Medical Center Foundation (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
• Friends of Mercy Foundation (Bakersfield, Calif.)
• Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation (Cincinnati, Ohio)
• Saint Joseph’s Hospital Foundation (Lexington, Ky.)

The winner was Friends of Mercy Foundation having increased fundraising revenue by 70 percent, decreased cost per dollar raised by nearly 45 percent, and increased their transfers to the hospital by over 10 percent and transfer multiple by nearly 20 percent.

The Largest Gift Intention Award recognizes work to gain commitments from donors to make future gifts which are not yet bookable for financial statement purposes due to the revocable or conditional nature of their commitments. Nominees were:

• Catholic Health Initiatives Colorado Foundation (Denver, Colo.)
• Saint Francis Foundation (San Francisco, Calif.)
• Sequoia Hospital Foundation (Redwood City, Calif.)
• St. Joseph’s Foundation of San Joaquin (Stockton, Calif.)

The winner was Catholic Health Initiatives Colorado Foundation with a $2.4 million revocable gift intention from The H and M Trust.

The Model Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding examples of donor stewardship as evidenced by making transfers to the facilities. This award looks at not just the dollars transferred but also transfer multiples and percentage improvements. Nominees were:

• Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation (Bardstown, Ky.)
• Mercy Health Foundation (Durango, Colo.)
• Sequoia Hospital Foundation (Redwood City, Calif.)
• St. Joseph’s Foundation (Phoenix, Ariz.)
• St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation (San Francisco, Calif.)
• St. Vincent Foundation (Little Rock, Ark.)

The winner was St. Joseph’s Foundation having transferred $14.5 million compared to budget of $3.0 million (representing transfers of nearly 10 times its operating expenses (10X transfer multiple) and an increase in transfers of 210 percent).

The Top Performing Division Award criteria is based on combined division results. The nominees were:

• California Central Coast Division
• Centura - Colorado & Kansas Division
• Greater Sacramento Division
• MercyOne - Iowa Division
• Southeast Division
• Southwest Division

The winner was Southeast Division comprised of CHI Memorial Foundation, Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation, Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, Saint Joseph Berea Hospital Foundation, Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, Saint Joseph-London Foundation, Saint Joseph-Mount Sterling Foundation, St. Vincent Foundation, and Trinity Health Foundation. This division had a well-balanced fundraising program, deriving gifts from multiple types of fundraising activities. Their cost per dollar raised was $0.13 with a transfer multiple of 4.83X (transferring nearly 5 times its operating expenses) and they increased their fundraising revenue by more than 50 percent over the previous year.

The nominees for the Largest Philanthropic Gift Award were:

• Barrow Neurological Foundation (Phoenix, Ariz.)
• California Hospital Medical Center Foundation (Los Angeles, Calif.)
• French Hospital Medical Center Foundation (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
• St. Joseph’s Foundation (Phoenix, Ariz.)
• St. Rose Dominican Health Foundation (Henderson, Nev.)
• St. Vincent Foundation (Little Rock, Ark.)

The winner was California Hospital Medical Center Foundation with a $5 million gift from The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as part of its capital campaign.

The Foundation of the Year Award is presented to the foundation that met its cost per dollar raised metric, transferred at least two times its operating expense to its hospital, and had a well-balanced fundraising program. If each of those three criteria were met, nominees were weighed against the demonstrated presence of performance improvement and innovation. The nominees were:

• Catholic Health Initiatives Colorado Foundation (Denver, Colo.)
• Dignity Health Foundation - Inland Empire (San Bernardino, Calif.)
• Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation (Cincinnati, Ohio)
• Mercy Foundation North (Redding, Calif.)
• MercyOne Des Moines Foundation (Des Moines, Iowa)
• Northridge Hospital Foundation (Northridge, Calif.)

The winner was Mercy Foundation North. While lowering their cost per dollar raised by nearly 30 percent and decreasing expenses by 5 percent, Mercy Foundation North raised $3.7 million, nearly $1 million over-budget and 30 percent more than the previous year. They transferred $2.1 million which was not only over budget, but a 30 percent increase over the previous year.

In closing out the 2020 Philanthropy Education Summit Reimagined, excitement was already high for the 2021 summit, another opportunity to foster collaboration, celebrate excellence and perpetuate innovation as we support the mission and ministry of CommonSpirit Health.

Those interested in serving on the planning committee for the 2021 summit are invited to contact Nancy Bussani, Vice President of Strategy and Governance ( to discuss opportunities for involvement.