Those with thick wallets and cheque books have needs too; hospital fund raiser brings understanding and experience to raising money.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  –  The combination of very dark intensive eyes, energy galore and drive to spare, resulted in her serving as president of the Student Council at University of Western Ontario where she ended up doing fund raising for student events.  It was that look into her future at Western that Anissa Hilborn probably didn’t appreciate at the time but something she realizes now – fund raising was to be part of her journey.   She was going to raise funds for organizations that needed financial support.

Anissa Hilborn: Smiles on the job, brings a sophisticated approach to her fund raising work - Saturday night the announcements get made - how much has been raised to date?

After some exceptional fund raising work, which we will come back to, she is now the President of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation and tasked with raising $60 million and perhaps then some in an 18 to 24 month time frame.

She brings a combination of diplomacy, persistence, a lot of class and an ability to fully understand the needs of the donours she is meeting with to the job.

Pulling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to make up that $60 million also calls for a level of management skills.  There is a fund raising Cabinet that Hilborn works very closely with – this is very, very much a team effort.

“Fund raising” Hilborn points out “is an emotional business – you put everything you have into it – and then some.”

First phase of the re-development construction has started - funds have to be raised to pay for the work being done.

Currently a resident of Oakville Anissa and her family (twin girls) plan to move to Burlington when the school schedules can be worked out.

Hilborn serves under Brian Torsney, Chair of the Foundation.  We can expect to see Hilborn serve under a succession of Foundation chairs.

Hilborn has worked for one of the granddaddy of the fund raising groups; the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – an organization that went through a massive transformation from a location where patients with mental health issues were dealt with in a way we couldn’t think of doing today.

The CAMH had to not only re-develop themselves but at the same time had to educate the public on the changing approaches to mental health and then begin raising the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build the kind of organization that could meet the newly identified need.  It was a massive public relations job and a little appreciated fund raising achievement.  Hilborn comes to the JBMH Foundation a fully tested and proven fund raiser.  She certainly has her work cut out for herself here.

Prior to joining the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation Hilborn was with the ErinoakKids Foundation; an organization that dealt with a wide range of physical and/or developmental disabilities, communication disorders, autism.

Hilborn did the fund raising for a foundation that had more than 650 staff and 8 sites from which they provided a comprehensive array of medical, therapy and support services that help children and their families.  ErinoakKids worked from a family-centered philosophy with the focus on the strengths and resilience of their clients and their families.

She will work in much the same environment in Burlington.

Fund raising for the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital comes together this Saturday night when the Annual Crystal Ball is held for the second year at the Mercedes Benz dealership on North Service Road.  It would be less than true to say that some of those attending the event will drive their Mercedes to the dealership and have their cars serviced while they wine, dine and dance the night away.

It will be an important occasion for the fund raising task the Foundation has before it now – there is $60 million that needs to be raised to match the amount the city is required to put up.  The city can tax its citizens, professional fund raisers don’t have that kind of power but they do have the gentle art of persuasion.  Some funds come from corporations who have a policy of supporting the community and a hospital is certainly a vital part of any community.

Some families have created trusts and they have a mandate to distribute the funds they hold to special places.  Hilborn has to convince them that the hospital is a very special place.

Waiting at the Foundation office door for donours to arrive. They will all be treated very, very well.

There are other situations where a family has suffered a tragic loss and they want to use some of their money to create a legacy, a lasting public memory and want to do so in a very unobtrusive yet meaningful way.

“Every donour brings their needs to the table” explains Hilborn “and my job is to be sure I fully understand the needs and am aware of the sensitivities that may be involved.  It is about a lot more than money.”

At the same time there are the realities of the larger world that have to be dealt with.  While the economic health of Burlington is  good – the 2008 recession left some deep scars that are still being dealt with – business isn’t what it used to be and along with being aware of and sensitive to the personal needs Hilborn has to be aware of the economy she is working in.

Holding the Crystal ball at a Mercedes Benz dealership is somewhat removed from the day to day life that the average Burlingtonians who will be using the hospital has to deal with.

The announcements that get made Saturday evening on just where the fund raising is at this point are important – critical actually.  It is vital that the community understand the significance of this first announcement.

The event takes place less than two days from now.  The hairdresser appointments have been made, the gowns are fitted or back from the cleaners.  The men will move from the casual wear that is quite common in many offices to the shiny black shoes and the tuxedos that may have been let out a bit.

Have fun!


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