San Francisco is practically on the doorstep of Silicon Valley, so it comes as no surprise that Silicon Valley culture is playing a role in the fundraising for a new children's hospital there.
UCSF Medical Center began building a replacement children's hospital as part of its $1.52 billion UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay project in December. Last fall, the medical center launched an online fundraising competition that aimed to use social media—websites such as Facebook and Twitter—to find new donors and, just as important, to make new advocates for the children's hospital, said Barbara French, vice chancellor for strategic communications and university relations for the University of California at San Francisco. So they organized a fundraising competition with the website Causes.
What kicked the effort into overdrive was the participation of San Francisco-based Zynga, which creates games played via Facebook. Zynga allowed gamers to purchase virtual candy canes for use in its popular Farmville game, with the very real proceeds going to the fundraising effort. Zynga easily won the contest by recruiting about 163,000 new donors, French said.
“The power of social media is the ability to engage people in causes and raise visibility and awareness for what we're doing, which is building the best children's hospital in the country,” French said. “Clearly, we've raised the hospital's visibility with people who use social media. And along the way, we raised $1 million.”
That amount is not much in terms of the overall fundraising goal for the project, which is $600 million, French said. But UCSF Medical Center now has a pool of 166,000 donors from the competition who can be tapped for future fundraising efforts and to spread the word about the hospital project, which is expected to be completed in 2014, French said.