What’s next for hospital foundation?

The entire 14-person board of the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation has resigned in response to the hospital administration’s intent on changing, if not eliminating, its role in raising money.

“The hospital is moving into a new era, and our needs are changing,” said hospital boardmember Madolyn Agrimonti. The foundation, she said, “was not filling those needs.”

Agrimonti was part of a small team of hospital officials that had for several months been urging the foundation to “move forward in a different way,” with less emphasis on special events and more on cultivating major donors and community partnerships.

The foundation was formed in 1982 as a non-profit corporation completely separate of the hospital. Chair Carolyn Stone, who has led the foundation since 1985, said hospital officials have increasingly encroached on that independence.

“The resignations were in response to the management of the hospital imposing strict restraints upon the activities of the foundation,” Stone said in a statement, “and requiring the foundation to give up its development activities on behalf of the hospital.”

The hospital itself has always encouraged and accepted direct donations; it has received more than $4.1 million this year. It’s ongoing capital campaign looks to raise several million dollars to complete the expansion project.

Over its history the foundation has raised about $7 million for the hospital.

“All donations, past and present, are secure,” Mather said in a prepared statement. “The hospital will be managing the finances of the foundation.”

The resignations took place at a foundation board meeting on July 16. While the hospital team was intent on its goal of restructuring and updating the fundraising operation, Agrimonti said the mass action was a surprise. “We still wanted them to be part of what was going on,” she said.

The foundation chose not to dissolve itself, but rather named three new directors to take over: hospital CEO Kelly Mather, hospital boardmember Sharon Nevans, and Agrimonti. It was that group that had been meeting with the foundation about modernizing its strategic plan.

Harmony Plenty, the executive director or the foundation, has been retained by the hospital.

Hospital administration will now evaluate the best way to move forward, Mather said. Among the options is the possibility of restructuring the foundation with an updated charter. “A new formation will be designed to match the hospital’s increased fundraising needs and style.”

Ultimately, Agrimonti, said, “Neither of these boards is more important than the hospital.”


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