Connecting our world at UW Medicine

UW Medicine Advancement: Funding Our Future


Photo caption: The Advancement team works to connect donors with opportunities to enhance patient care, expand educational opportunities and advance research at UW Medicine. Some recent examples of how donor funding has made a difference includes a pilot project to improve screening rates for breast cancer for Black patients, a program to support PhD students in the biomedical sciences and research on traumatic brain injury.


UW Medicine’s ability to accelerate advances in healthcare is because of two factors: a dedicated group of 30,000 employees and community support.

UW Medicine’s Advancement team is translating that community support into funding, so we can continue to bring innovative and excellent care to our patients. Rebecca Kelly, associate vice president for Development, and Randy Mann, associate vice president for Campaigns, explain the money behind the medicine.

What does Advancement do?

UW Medicine’s Advancement team is, on the most basic level, a fundraising team that helps fund the work of our mission: improving the health of the public.

Kelly likes to think of Advancement as a match making team. Matching research endeavors, education initiatives and clinical improvements — the areas that drive our mission — with people who are passionate about particular areas of care and want to have an impact on the future of medicine.

“Oftentimes we are helping people express their gratitude,” says Kelly. “Most of our donors are grateful for the care they receive and want to partner with us to create positive impacts for other people — we help them do that.”

What are their goals?

To raise as much money as possible for UW Medicine priorities, from as many people as possible, in order to improve the health of our community and world.

To meet these goals, the team is split into two areas of focus: fundraisers and an operations and engagement team.

The fundraisers work directly with donors and faculty to cultivate relationships and secure gifts, while the other half of the team manages data, processes gifts, thank donors, demonstrates impact of past investments, develops proposals, articulates the vision for our priorities and engages donors through in-person and virtual events.

In other words, the fundraising team brings gifts in the door and the operations and engagement team demonstrates the impact of the gifts.

“We don’t try to convince people who aren’t philanthropic to become donors. We try to convince those who are philanthropic and grateful to make the largest and most impactful gift they can,” says Mann. “It often takes fundraisers a 12- to 18-month period of engagement and relationship building before asking someone for a significant gift.”

The team’s effectiveness and success depends on the teamwork between fundraisers, their faculty or clinician partners and Advancement’s operations and engagement team.

“Many people know the role of the fundraisers, but it’s the people who do the work behind the scenes that help us shine and set us apart,” he says.

What are the funding areas and campaigns?

The Advancement team helps raise funds for priorities in three areas: education, research and clinical care.

Patients Are First: Innovation Pilots

One of Advancement’s new funding opportunities is the Patients Are First Innovation Pilots, which seeks to improve patient care and clinical outcomes by funding innovative projects suggested by the care team.

Pilot projects are submitted by clinical staff to address critical delivery care issues and address barriers to achieving our mission.

The 2020 funding recipients included a pilot project to improve breast cancer screening rates for Black women and a new Living Donor Advocacy Initiative that helps eliminate the wait for liver transplant patients.

Accelerate: The Campaign for UW Medicine

In June, UW Medicine completed a historic, 10-year campaign raising more than $2.5 billion and exceeding the campaign’s original goal by $500 million.

The Accelerate campaign, which supported all three parts of the mission-driven funding areas, launched four new institutes; funded breakthroughs in research to prevent and treat serious diseases; increased access to high quality healthcare in our region by expanding programs and services; supported the regional, national and global public health response to COVID-19; and more.

“We are so successful in fundraising because of the amazing people and caregivers who do what they do at UW Medicine,” says Mann. “Our donors’ generosity is a direct reflection of their belief in the UW Medicine team and the role we play in improving the health of the public.”

How they support our mission

This past year, Advancement had a unique and unusual problem with fundraising.

“More people wanted to engage with us than we have personnel to engage with,” says Kelly. “We have worked with over 3,000 brand new donors since the pandemic began.”

And it’s clear why interest and involvement have been remarkably high: UW Medicine has been, and continues to be, a local and national leader during the pandemic.

The Advancement team raised over $30 million between March and June of 2020 to support our overall response to the pandemic, including funds for testing, vaccine development and personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

How you can get involved

“If you love this place and mission, we invite you to participate as well,” says Mann.

One important way is by listening to patients who express an interest in philanthropy and being their conduit to the Advancement team. In the coming months, UW Medicine Advancement plans to introduce more tools to help our caregivers make that connection.

You can also show your pride and support for UW Medicine and our pandemic response by making a gift to the UW Medicine Emergency Response Fund on Husky Giving Day, Thursday, April 8.

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