UMN Foundation takes over fundraising for entire M Health Fairview system, expected to increase donations

The Foundation will manage all philanthropic donations and gifts from donors.

by Abbey Machtig, Campus Administration Reporter

In an effort to streamline the donation process, the University of Minnesota Foundation will now be responsible for all monetary gifts for the M Health Fairview system.

This new agreement, approved by the Board of Regents in October, acts to create one brand for donors to give to, making the donation process more efficient. Previously, fundraising efforts were completed by two different groups, the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Fairview Foundation.

Combining all donations under one brand, the University of Minnesota Foundation, or UMF, is likely to increase the number and amount of gifts from donors, said Patricia Porter, vice president of development, medicine and health for UMF.

UMF’s Driven campaign launched in 2011 and has raised approximately $3.97 billion. The campaign will end in 2021. These funds are designated for a variety of places, including M Health Fairview.

The M Health Fairview system consists of the University’s Medical School, University of Minnesota Physicians and Fairview Health. This partnership will also extend to M Health Fairview locations around the state of Minnesota.

This change will take effect on Nov. 1. The Fairview Foundation will continue to distribute funds raised by donors prior to this date, said John Swanholm, president of the Fairview Foundation and vice president of community advancement in a statement emailed to the Minnesota Daily.

This new arrangement will especially benefit the University’s Medical School, which often depends on donor contributions to fund new research projects. Leaders also said they hope this funding will help to increase the Medical School’s rankings over time.

“The stronger the medical school is, the better off the health system does because it attracts more patients, it attracts national notoriety and it attracts more grant funding from federal agencies,” Porter said. “So we see this philanthropy very often helps leverage.”

Continued support of the Medical School will also help to aid further research into the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you look at all the media attention that the University and our health system have had, it’s been about that whole spectrum,” Porter said. “It’s been about vaccine development and antibody tests; it’s been about creating ventilators in garages that can be built cheaply. It’s been about creating masks and shields within our own biomedical engineering departments. And then it’s been about the actual care, the frontline care workers, that are delivering care and taking care of patients right now.”

She added that the switch is also beneficial to those who donate to the M Health Fairview system as they will now be able to make gifts to one organization rather than the two separate ones used previously.

“When you have a benefactor population that feels so strongly about what we do as a University and how we can help patients, it just becomes natural that we can help them have one conversation as to how that translates into patient care,” said Anette Lillegard, assistant vice president for communications at the Medical School.

These changes will not require UMF to change its operations, although staffing will expand to account for the added workload. The foundation expects to see an increase in efficiency as a result of this new agreement.

“We’ll be expanding: we will be importing information from their database into ours and setting up some new funds,” Porter said. “There’s a lot of communication activities that need to go on to inform everybody on the front end … so those are the things that we’re focused on right now.”