Bringing in the New Year, we’re taking stock of what we did in 2014 and what we’re planning for 2015. We invited a few leaders in the nonprofit community to share their thoughts and opinions—what they did right this past year, what they learned, and what they might do differently. Here are their thoughts. Our next post will continue this conversation.

1. What was the best idea you or your team had in 2014?  

Timothy Barr, Vice President for Development and Executive Director of the Foundation, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center: We developed a plan to engage younger professionals in their late 20s to early 40s who don’t have an immediate need for health care. They’re focused on their careers and many haven’t started their families yet, but they are accustomed to giving back, having had community service as part of their education programs. We’re reaching out to them with focus, helping them develop their own sense of philanthropy and hope they’ll engage their social media contacts and do some crowdfunding on their own. We also want them to learn about us so when they have a medical issue or are starting a family, they’ll consider care at St. Joseph’s.

Kate Bech, CEO, Princeton Family YMCA:  In response to a community health-related RFP, our team brainstormed about ways we could develop a relationship with a local pharma corporation that shares our commitment to healthy living. We wanted to work with them beyond just getting a grant. We began seeing them differently, more as a partner than a funder. In the RFP we focused on ways to connect with the people we serve: the low- to middle-income community. This corporation wants to connect with the same group, so we are now working together toward that goal. It’s been exciting to develop this relationship in a new way.

Michele Pignatello, Chief Development Officer, Kessler Foundation: We’ve done a thorough evaluation of where we’ve been most successful, analyzing what activities provided us with opportunities to do more. Moving forward, we’ll concentrate our efforts on major gifts and donor acquisition. We’ll place less emphasis on events, focusing on our premier events: for example, our annual Stroll and Roll, which supports Kessler’s rehabilitation research and is still going strong after 13 years.

2. What was your organization’s finest achievement in 2014?

TB: St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital Foundations held a major gala honoring our CEO, William McDonald, who was retiring. The two foundations are independent and don’t have a strong history of collaboration but came together for this event, raising more than $1.1 million.

KB: Our finest achievement this year was assembling an outstanding board of directors: a phenomenal group that shares our mission and will help us fulfill it. We’ve made this a top priority for several years and in 2014 we saw all our efforts come together in a big way that will open many doors for us. We think it’s going to bring about a new chapter in the life of our organization. 

MP: Celebrating the naming of our Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center in October made us all very proud. The center was named for the co-founder and vice chairman of Select Medical, the parent company of Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. The center’s state-of-the-art imaging equipment will enable researchers to study the brain and spinal cord while a person is performing a task or even thinking. This will be of tremendous value in translational research.

3. What was the most innovative way you used social media in the past year?

TB: We spent a lot of time and effort on our #Giving Tuesday outreach through a strategic, creative series of emails and reminders. Right at this time, we also transitioned our foundation’s website, turning it over to the hospital and creating a new one and changing our Facebook page as well. What we did was effective and we had a good response to #Giving Tuesday.

KB: We’ve hired communications interns during the summer for the purpose of managing our social media. They are 15- to 17-year-olds. Who better to ask than teenagers—the real social media experts? The interns have done a great job of helping us spread the word about our summer camps. They wrote and produced a weekly e-newsletter for parents. They’ve interviewed campers and posted articles and photos on Facebook. One of the interns even wrote a blog about the camp. We help them with writing and communication skills and pay them a stipend. In return, they’ve taught us a lot about how to use social media. 

MP: We promoted our Stroll and Roll event on Facebook and Twitter. We know we got some new donors for the event and will do some analysis to see if we can determine whether they came to us as a result of social media. We also used Facebook and Twitter to garner support for #Giving Tuesday. We are still learning how we can use social media to further our mission.