Thursday, October 9, 2014

Looking Out for Kids

I'm taking this Blog in a different direction from my past messages. This message is about philanthropy and how frustrated I've been about getting folks to both notice and support our outstanding Looking Out For Kids campaign.  This one charity singularly supports the efforts of the University to care for thousands of children in the Philadelphia and Montgomery county school districts who would otherwise not be able to obtain vision, hearing and other health-related screenings.  Furthermore, this fund provides glasses to underprivileged children who cannot afford them.  Needless to say Salus has changed lives through this extremely beneficial service.   

Unfortunately, all of these interventions cost money.  While we've been able to subsidize most of these efforts through the Looking Out For Kids campaign the University often must augment these services with human and fiscal resources that normally would be dedicated to other necessary functions.  Compounding all this, we have a 14-year old vision screening van that is outdated and in need of replacement so we can provide integrated health screenings, not just vision screenings.

I'm frustrated because as much as we publicize our efforts and people talk about the importance of helping children, there's relatively little to show in terms of philanthropic support for these efforts.  We have a fundraising event the beginning of November (invitation and link below) but the amount of money it raises barely covers the cost of gas for our van and a few pair of glasses.  I need your help in the form of suggestions, support and contacts so we can gain some traction on raising the necessary funds to support the youth of our communities.  I'm hoping someone who might be reading this can help provide some additional insights as to how we can best sustain these important functions.  I'd hate to see any support we're giving to children diminish due to lack of funding.


  1. Have you considered "crowd sourcing"?

  2. Hi Mike: I agree that there is an inherent problem with these fundraising efforts if they are barely able to pay for themselves, and then you have to dip into University resources to cover the costs. As you are expanding free services and possible materials as well to larger and larger segments of the community, beyond optometric services, this may only worsen in my opinion. Capital expenses such as screening vans are not going to be covered by the profits if there are any. So, in my view, short of tapping Audrey for her new grant bonanza (just kidding), you may need to widen the horizon to identify one or more really "high profile" individuals in the business community, the medical community, or in the TriState general community who will step up to the plate with their resources. I'm talking about identifying another person like my late cousin, Marty Hafter, who supported so many major capital projects for PCO and Salus U. Or identify a select VIP group of Marty Hafters who will do what you are suggesting, as I doubt that fundraisers, as well-intentioned as they are, will be enough. I will leave it to you and your Institutional Resources Dept. personnel to research this and court the right benefactors!

    1. JAS, thanks for your comments. I absolutely agree and that's the tack we've been trying to take. The challenge is finding the right group of benefactors. I assure you, it's not for lack of trying! We'll keep getting out there to beat the bushes. Any and all suggestions are very welcome!

  3. I hope this doesn't show up twice. I submitted my comments earlier for this entry, hit publish and it disappeared. So, I'm submitting again. There are many fundraising events and you need to differentiate yours from the others. If you can find a family or families who benefited from the health screenings and is willing to talk publicly about their experience, you can use that in a news release that you can send to local newspapers, even a few television stations. Getting news about your screenings will drum up support and fund for the event.

    What JAS said is good and I would have said something like that, if he or she didn't. Another avenue to look into are foundations. When I was working at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, I was able to get funding from the Barra Foundation ( and the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation ( for our community education seminars. An additional foundation try is The Montgomery Foundation ( Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people in Montgomery County both now and in the future. Salus serves people in Montgomery County, so it is worth a shot.

    Area banks may be able to help. Some banks have foundations give grants to nonprofits, others give gifts outright to nonprofits. I also want to recommend a book "Black Tie Optional: A Complete Special Events Resource for Nonprofit Organizations" by Harry A. Freedman and Karen Feldman ( This book is filled with information on how to put together a special event that makes money for the organization, not the "Vendor Foundation".

    I hope these suggestions help. I've done my share of special events and I have the same concerns for each event and they are: 1.) Will everything go as planned. 2.) Will this event make money.

    Ilena Di Toro