Column: Grady fundraising hits $300M milestone

By Maria Saporta
Friday, February 26, 2010

The campaign to raise $325 million for Grady Memorial Hospital has crossed a key milestone.

“We have broken the $300 million mark,” said Tom Bell, SecurAmerica executive chairman, who has been leading the fundraising campaign along with Pete Correll, an investor in the Atlanta Equity Fund and retired CEO of Georgia-Pacific LLC. Grady Hospital CEO Mike Young also has been part of most fundraising calls.

The actual amount raised is $302 million from 50 donors, and Bell said he is hopeful they will be able to wrap up the campaign by the end of the year.

According to the fundraising firm Coxe Curry & Associates, there are 34 requests pending or in process that total $44 million in asks. Plus there are another 21 priority prospects to be solicited.

Bell said he has been pleased by the community response to help Grady Hospital.

“It’s classic Atlanta,” Bell said. “Here we have the worst recession since the Great Depression, and here in the metropolitan area, every single person or organization that we have asked, we’ve gotten a yes.”

Ann Curry, president of Coxe Curry, said the campaign has been a committee effort, but that the “number of face-to-face calls that Tom, Pete and Mike Young have made is unprecedented in my history of campaigns in Atlanta.”

Grady also is getting ready to launch its smaller gifts program under the leadership of Lisa Borders, who is president of the Grady Foundation. Those would be for gifts of $1,000 or more.

The major donors to the campaign so far include: the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, $200 million; the Marcus Foundation, $20 million; an anonymous gift of $5 million; Kaiser Permanente of Georgia Inc., $5 million; the Coca-Cola Foundation, $3 million; Georgia Power Co., $3 million; the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation, $3 million; the Zeist Foundation, $3 million; Cox Enterprises Inc., $2.5 million; and SunTrust Banks Inc., $2.5 million.

Correll honored

Modern Healthcare Magazine has named Pete Correll Trustee of the Year for large health-care organizations (hospitals with more than $75 million in annual revenue or more than 250 beds).

The prestigious award recognizes individuals and organizations that have been instrumental in helping hospitals in their communities. Correll won for helping “spearhead a renaissance at Grady Health System.”

United Way update

No one yet knows what the final number for the 2009 campaign will be when United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc. holds its annual “victory” celebration on March 4.

But what is known is that even if the goal is not reached, just getting close to the $80.5 million goal will be a victory in itself.

“It’s a struggle,” said Milton Little, president of Atlanta’s United Way. “We have a plan for how to get there. We are closing the gap, but we won’t know until the final day whether we’ll be able to close that gap. It was an incredibly difficult environment.”

This campaign was particularly difficult because it occurred in the midst of one of the worst economic periods in metro Atlanta’s history.

The decision was made to keep the goal at the same level of last year’s campaign. But in 2008, United Way launched a one-time Critical Needs campaign that raised $3.7 million to address immediate needs brought on by the recession. Those dollars were included as part of last year’s campaign.

John Somerhalder, CEO of AGL Resources Inc. who chaired the 2009 campaign and agreed to stay on to chair the 2010 campaign, echoed Little’s sentiments.

“The good news is that as a result of hard-working volunteers and United Way staff, and very generous businesses and employees in metro Atlanta, the gap is smaller than what we hear from many other areas,” Somerhalder wrote in an e-mail. “In this environment, it is still extremely difficult to close that gap.”

Neither Little nor Somerhalder wanted to quantify the current size of the gap, but when asked if it could be as high as 10 percent, Little quickly said it wasn’t that big.

The victory (or near-victory) celebration will be held at the Loudermilk Center.

$138M for nonprofits

In the good news category, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta was able to give away more than $138.4 million to nonprofits and faith-based organizations in 2009, a record number for the organization.

The Community Foundation, which represents more than 600 philanthropists in metro Atlanta, had received a total of $115.5 million in gifts the same year, the third-highest year in its history.

“Our strong performance last year demonstrates the unique ability of community foundations to consistently respond to community needs, even amidst difficult financial times,” said Alicia Philipp, president of the Atlanta foundation.

One reason the numbers were so robust this past year was because it included the $32 million donation of the Martin Luther King Jr. papers to Morehouse College. The total gifts also included about $11.5 million the community gave to help the foundation pay for the collection.

Delta and Atlanta

Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Richard Anderson has learned how to speak Atlanta.

In a Feb. 22 speech to the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Anderson drove home the point that Atlanta and Delta are inseparable.

“Atlanta is home to Delta,” Anderson said during his first speech to Rotary since he was named CEO in September 2007. “Delta and Atlanta are almost synonymous terms.”

At one point, there was great concern about whether Anderson, who had been a top executive of Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines, would be committed to keeping Delta’s center of gravity in Atlanta after the merger of the two airlines. But Anderson made it clear to Rotarians that his loyalties were to Atlanta.

— Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this report.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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