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November 23, 2020

Q4 2020 Quarterly Report: COVID-19 brings community together, while social distancing

Q4 2020 Quarterly Report: COVID-19 brings community together, while social distancing

Crystal Hinson Miller, chief philanthropy officer for Indiana University Health and president of the IU Health Foundation, is a national leader in healthcare philanthropy. Here, she shares her personal reflections.


So often, an end-of-the-year note like this could be summed up by saying, “Look what we did this year!” As we come to the end of 2020, however, I want to say to everyone who supports the IU Health Foundation, “Look what you did this year!”

Needless to say, it has been a year of challenges, but thanks to the support of people like you, the teams at the IU Health Foundation and IU Health had the resources, capacity and emotional energy not simply to survive this year, but to also innovate and grow. You helped us become a better foundation amid this crisis.

So, let’s look at what you did.

You responded quickly and generously. Almost as soon as COVID-19 arrived in Central Indiana, you asked, “How can I help?” We were overwhelmed with the number of companies that wanted to donate meals and personal protection gear, and the individuals who dropped off homemade masks by the hundreds and bottled water by the case. The volume of donated items required that we create a streamlined donation process at our hospitals across the state. As a result, we now have a new, efficient infrastructure for accepting your tangible gifts.

You went above and beyond. You repeatedly exceeded our expectations with your passion for supporting our people. This was seen most clearly during “Giving Tuesday Now,” the special May “Giving Tuesday” event held in response to the pandemic. You gave in record numbers, surpassing our past Giving Tuesday gifts by $50,000. Whether you gave $5 or $5,000, you allowed us take full advantage of a matching gift from Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company while showing that you care about Hoosiers and the people who work to keep them healthy.

You supported our teams. Your contributions funded our COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, which we used in large part to support our team members in need. Facing the same problems faced by many of you during the pandemic shutdown – a spouse losing a job, disrupted childcare, a loved one falling ill – our frontline heroes also were working longer-than-usual hours, taking considerable personal risk and plunging selflessly into unchartered territory. You honored this sacrifice and hard work with gifts that we used to help nearly 500 team members navigate through difficult times, ensuring that they could continue to work on the frontlines helping you, your families and your neighbors.

You inspired our teams. I am proud to say that, moved by your compassion and their love for their colleagues, hundreds of IU Health and Foundation team members also contributed to the Rapid Response Fund. Furthermore, in employee surveys taken during the pandemic, our teams posted some of the highest scores on caring about our team members and the strength of our mission that we’ve ever seen – a result, we believe, driven in part by the outpouring of community support and encouragement.

You helped us pivot. Some of the impact you had during the pandemic was built on a foundation you helped lay before the pandemic. As a result of past philanthropic support, we had in place a telehealth and virtual care system that could pivot to serve as a virtual screening clinic and COVID-19 testing operation. Launched in April, the virtual clinic and testing system has screened thousands of Hoosiers statewide and helped to direct folks to care.

You allowed us to become a source of information. Thanks to your support, we were able to create new sources of information about COVID-19 and related topics. We redesigned some of our existing communications vehicles to focus on the pandemic, and we developed a webinar series for donors. Addressing topics such as COVID-19 and its impact on heart health, stroke care and the economic impact of the CARES Act affects, the webinar has helped to ensure that you and your family have the information you need to steer through these times.

You built up your local teams. You not only supported IU Health Foundation broadly, but you also helped your local hospitals by providing funds directly to them. One of the most exciting examples of this came in the form of a $75,000 gift from the Ball Brothers Foundation to support the IU Health East Central Regional in Delaware, Jay and Blackford counties, and we received a wide range of gifts from elsewhere in the state that were put to work immediately in the communities where they came from.

So, yes: Look at what you did this year. At the same time, I would ask you to consider what more you can do: Wear a mask. Maintain safe social distances. Wash your hands. By continuing these good practices, you can help to move us closer to the day when this crisis is behind us.

Thank you for all you have done. I wish you happy holidays, and a healthy 2021.

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