Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation focuses on ambitious fundraising campaign | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation focuses on ambitious fundraising campaign

Deborah Breen, president of the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, is on an aggressive push to raise funds for the medical facility's expansion as well as other health-care improvements.
Christina Capasso/Special to The Aspen Times |

The head of Aspen Valley Hospital’s fundraising arm said the organization has a “pretty aggressive goal” this year when it comes to soliciting money for the medical facility’s expansion project.

“We’re hoping to raise another $15 million (this year) and by the end of 2016, we’re hoping we’ll be at the $60 million mark, which will mean another $23 million in 2016,” said Deborah Breen, who became president of the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation on Jan. 4, 2013. Last year, the foundation brought in $9 million; in 2013 it raised $11 million.

“Those are some pretty lofty goals. It’s an aggressive time line,” Breen said.

When Breen stepped into her new role, a messy breakup was underway between the hospital and the Aspen Valley Foundation, once called the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation. The dispute was over how funds from the Aspen Valley Foundation were being dispersed. Meanwhile, the new foundation that Breen joined had been set into motion when it formed in September 2012.

“I knew that we had a tall task ahead and this was a foundation that was starting completely from scratch,” she said. “We had no data, we had no staff, we had no board.”

Construction on the hospital’s next expansion, called Phase III-A, is set to begin in the spring and is slated for completion in 2017. The project will include a new emergency room, space for diagnostic imaging, surgical services and other improvements.

“That piece is about a $32 million price tag, with the $22 million we’ve secured with projections and existing philanthropy,” she said.

Eight donors are “mostly” responsible for that $22 million, along with smaller contributions coming from another 50 sources, Breen said.

The new Resnick Family Emergency Department is being funded through a $5 million gift from Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

The Rene and Lester Crown Center for Specialty Care, which will have an emphasis on cardiology, pain management, urology, pulmonology, neurology and gastroenterology, is funded through a seven-figure donation from the members of the Crown family, who own Aspen Skiing Co.

The remaining balance of Phase III-A will be paid through the hospital’s cash reserve.

The third and final phases of the four-phase project will add an additional 83,000 square feet to the Castle Creek Road facility.

Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation doesn’t stage major fundraising events like a host of other local nonprofits do.

“You hope to keep 50 cents on the dollar” with large benefits, Breen said. “And there’s a lot of high costs with that. The most efficient fundraising we’ve been on is personal outreach with individuals who really support the hospital in a major way.”

Breen said the average first-time donor gives $800 to the foundation, more than 10 times the national average for the first-time donor.

The foundation isn’t just focused on the hospital expansion, Breen said, noting that this year it will help fund the hospital’s $3.2 million budgeted for routine expenses, such as upgrading an X-ray machine or replacing old boilers.

She also said there’s added emphasis on matching donors’ needs.

“When they brought me in, I knew this wasn’t just for raising funds for building expansion,” said Breen, who came to Aspen from the Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation in Rhinebeck, New York. “This also needed to be about our comprehensive development program — all of the setting up of staff, technology, routine capital needs. Not everybody wants to give to bricks and mortar.”

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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