10 Lessons Learned From a Decade of Investing in Senior Care
Giving back to the community has always been a significant part of the Marquis Companies and Consonus Healthcare philosophy. Advocating for the causes we believe in is important to us, which is why we formed the Vital Life Foundation—to support organizations and programs that provide meaning and vitality in the lives of residents and staff members living and working in senior care. Our foundation believes that when you meet people where they are on their aging journey, miracles can happen.
2018 marks 10 years since the inception of The Vital Life Foundation. Ten years of hard work and dedication, and 10 years of growth and accomplishments. Over these 10 years, we’ve raised almost $7 million to support our mission. Through the efforts of this organization, we’ve been able to truly make a difference in the lives of seniors and staff members living and working in senior care, and that makes all the hard work well worth it.
The history and growth of the Vital Life Foundation has taught me a great deal about what it takes to sustain a successful nonprofit organization and ensure that the community is continually invested in your cause. Here are the 10 lessons I’ve learned during my time leading The Vital Life Foundation.
1. Put the ‘Fun’ in Fundraising
We are serious about our cause and creating a difference for those living and working in senior care, but we believe fundraising should be exactly that—fun! We’re always looking to create fun opportunities for those involved in our organization and strive to ensure that employees, donors and partners are enthusiastic about the work they’re doing and excited about the contributions they’re making.
2. Create Core Partnerships
It’s crucial to create core partnerships within the community, whether it be with employees, volunteers or partner organizations. These partnerships will continue to blossom alongside your organization as a result. At Vital Life, we’ve had partners that have been with us since the very beginning of our organization and their support and involvement has been crucial to our success. Some of our key charitable partners started with donations of only $5,000, but over the years, those numbers have grown exponentially.
3. Be Intentional With Programming
At Vital Life, we always have our eye on the prize with who we serve; they are the reason we do what we do. The programming at our organization is very intentional and carefully crafted to maximize the results for people living and working in senior care. Additionally, we don’t support programs that don’t honor our mission, period.
4. Fuel Staff’s Connection to Your Mission
Forty-one-percent of the staff at Vital Life are “Spirit Club” members, a program where employees can choose to make donations to the foundation through payroll deductions. Throughout the years, employees have contributed more than $1 million in direct payroll deductions. This simply wouldn’t have been possible without a passionate and connected staff who are dedicated to furthering our mission.
5. Involve the Community
At Vital Life, we engage the community through our various volunteer programs, including Vital Volunteer, where senior residents can get involved with charities they’re passionate about, as well as community events including Spirit of ‘45, which brings together the community to honor WWII veterans. Most community members are thrilled to be involved in your organization’s efforts, but you need to ensure they have the opportunities to do so.
6. Every Contribution Matters
We received anything from a $20 contribution, to $200, to $2,000 and more—but it doesn’t matter the size, rather it’s about how broad based our reach is. Everyone has something to contribute and what’s important is that they’re passionate about our mission. After 10 years, we’ve amassed big numbers in the donations, but we continue to celebrate the little numbers because that’s how Vital Life was built and thrives today—one true believer at a time.
7. Transparency Doesn’t Go Unnoticed
We want everyone involved in the organization to see the amazing things we’re achieving together, which is why honestly and transparency are engrained in all that we do. We keep donors, partners and other stakeholders updated on our activities through our various reports, newsletters, social media channels, fundraising events and more. We believe donations are so much more meaningful when people can see and understand how their time or money is making a real impact.
8. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Building a successful nonprofit organization takes time, so don’t hesitate in taking the necessary time, care and consideration needed to build your nonprofit’s community, key partnerships and programming. At Vital Life, we’ve taken the time to build our organization carefully and meticulously to ensure that our organization isn’t a flash in the pan, but one that will serve our mission for years to come.
9. Share your experiences
Equally as important as donation quotas or annual reports are the real-life stories of your organization. This could be the story of a volunteer who felt inspired by their work, a senior resident’s life changing experience or a heartwarming event that brought the community together. Whatever it may be, it’s these stories that will create a long-lasting human connection between those involved with your organization and the people who are directly benefiting from your programing.
10. Success Requires an Ecosystem
Similar to any ecosystem, Vital Life started from a seed of an idea. That seed has been able to grow and flourish over the past 10 years due to likeminded parties working together—donors, sponsors, volunteers, partners, employees and friends. Every person in our ecosystem, no matter how small, has a part to play. It’s this unique and powerful ecosystem that has led to our organization’s success, and will continue to fuel our impact in the years to come.
It’s been an incredible 10 years for The Vital Life Foundation, but this is only the beginning. Our team looks forward to building upon all the things that have already been achieved and seeing the lasting impact we’ll make in next 10 years. Together, we’ll continue to further our mission to create opportunities to help people live the best, rest of their lives.
Ann Adrian serves as the executive director of Vital Life, a Marquis and Consonus Foundation. Ann comes from an entrepreneurial background as the visionary and owner of Goodnight Room, a multi-million dollar children’s specialty store in Portland.
Previously Ann was an executive at Nordstrom serving numerous leadership roles. Ann’s role as executive director includes fundraising, community engagement and strategic planning for the organization to bring the mission of The Vital Life Foundation to a wider audience across the United States.