UCSF Launches Social Media Fundraising Campaign for Benioff Children's Hospital

UCSF has launched an innovative fundraising campaign that leverages social media to raise awareness of and dollars for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The UCSF Challenge for the Children, a collaboration with the online fundraising platform Causes.com, kicks off today (Oct. 26, 2010) as part of the groundbreaking festivities for the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, site of the future children’s hospital as well as women’s and cancer hospitals.

The eight-week fundraising competition, running through Dec. 16, is designed to reach out through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter and encourage people to contribute as individuals or become team leaders in support of the children’s hospital. So far, the Challenge for the Children has enlisted prominent team leaders from Silicon Valley’s high-tech community to kick-off the campaign, including Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch; Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of salesforce.com; Ron Conway, angel investor and vice chair of the UCSF Foundation; Om Malik, founder of technology blog GigaOM; and David Morin, founder of Path.com.

The campaign also has received celebrity support, with Ashton Kutcher and MC Hammer both signed on to lead teams. Kutcher and Hammer together have nearly eight million Twitter followers.

Leaders will draft teams of fellow supporters through their personal networks, then compete against other teams for various prizes leading up to the grand prize of naming a prominent space in the new hospital. The campaign’s primary goal is to increase community engagement with the future hospital at Mission Bay, so the winning team will have the largest number of individual donations, rather than the highest total donated. That puts a school or service club on equal footing with a corporate executive.

Individuals and teams can register and donate online at www.causes.com/ucsfchallenge, or through the UCSF Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ucsf.

“UCSF is fortunate to be part of a vibrant community that embraces innovation and harnesses technology to make the world a better place, with Causes.com leading the way,” said Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “We are deeply appreciative of the community’s ongoing support and commitment to helping us build a truly outstanding hospital for children and their families in their time of greatest need, and we hope this campaign will inspire others to join the UCSF family.”

Since its 2007 launch, Causes.com has registered 140 million users and raised more than $27 million for charities around the world, according to Joe Green, co-founder and president of the Berkeley, CA based company.

“We believe that fundraising online has the power to reach greater numbers of potential donors than ever before, and therefore democratize philanthropic programs such as this one,” Green said. “Working with UCSF is a great opportunity to give back to our community and be a part of a unique fundraising program that we hope will become a model for future campaigns.”

Throughout the Challenge, teams will compete for various prizes, such as prime tickets to sporting events and concerts, and an executive lunch with Laret and UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH.

At the end of the competition, the winning team will name The Link at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay, a multi-level atrium that connects creative arts areas with a rooftop garden. The space reflects UCSF’s healing environment, allowing children to be children and families to be together during a hospital stay, explained Roxanne Fernandes, executive director of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

“This campaign is all about the children that will benefit from the extraordinary patient care and research that UCSF is known for,” said Lynne Benioff, who serves on the UCSF Foundation Board of Directors and is spearheading the campaign. “It is so exciting to use social media to do something that’s never been done before, to give naming rights to a prestigious space within the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital to the person who inspires the greatest number of others to donate.”

Funds raised through the Challenge will go toward the 183-bed UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay, which, upon completion in 2014, will set a new world-class standard for patient- and family-centered health care, safety, sustainability and translational medicine. Designed for children and their families, the facility will offer urgent and emergency care, primary care, specialty outpatient services, and an on-site helipad. In addition, the proximity of the hospital site to UCSF’s biomedical research campus will speed the application of laboratory discoveries to the treatment of patients worldwide.

To date, $375 million has been raised toward the $600 million fundraising goal for the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, including two pledges of $100 million or more. The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founder, Charles F. Feeney, made a $125 million matching gift in March 2009, followed by Lynne and Marc Benioff’s $100 million gift in June 2010.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. More information is available at www.ucsf.edu.