Lean budgets and scarce human resources: these are relatively common problems for nonprofit communicators, but Suzanne Hallsworth, Community Giving and Communications Director at Oakville Hospital Foundation, sees them as opportunities. Suzanne finds reward in constantly striving to do more and more with less, and explains that in this context, success is that much more gratifying.

Suzanne oversees all aspects of marketing communications for the Foundation, which raises funds for the community hospital in Oakville. Part of her work involves managing a small team responsible for community fundraising including direct response, special events and third party community events.

“I love both the variety of experiences and the people I work with in my role. One day, I’ll be focused predominantly on writing, the next day, logistics planning, problem solving with a team member or working with our board,” says Suzanne. “And this is an incredible community in which to work. Every person – every volunteer and staff member – is so excited about a new hospital for the community, which keeps me motivated.”

Also motivating for Suzanne is the relative flexibility and simplicity of a hospital foundation’s structure. Suzanne has worked in nonprofit for 13 years, her two most recent positions at hospital foundations: “At a smaller nonprofit, new ideas, strategies and fundraising programs are easier to propose and launch in less time. The organization tends to be more receptive to new ideas and to getting things done.”

For example, a few years ago, a group of Foundation interns from Oakville Sheridan College came up with the idea of racing hospital beds down Lakeshore Road; an idea that was proposed to corporate partners. Today, the Bank Bed Challenge, which pits Oakville’s six major banks against each other in a fundraising and bed-racing contest, is in its eighth year.

Suzanne is also proud of introducing a social media presence for both hospital foundations: “Although the foundations are more flexible, the hospitals we fundraise for can’t always be. However, we made the case for moving forward with social media and it has paid off. Our presence on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube has allowed us to make new relationships in the community that we never would have otherwise made. Those new relationships have led to new stories to share in traditional channels and vehicles such as media relations and annual reports.”

Although Suzanne has a long history in nonprofit, it’s her more distant career in publishing which she cites as an incredible training period for what she does now. Having spent eight years in publishing promotions and marketing, Suzanne learned valuable lessons about working with few resources in a very competitive environment.

“It was another role with many ‘other duties as required’,” Suzanne explains. “As in nonprofit, the industry relies on people who are willing to take chances and execute big bold ideas. It prepared me well for non-profit, which for me is about moving forward, taking chances and capitalizing on opportunities.”

Follow Suzanne on Twitter and learn more about the work of the Oakville Hospital Foundation at oakvillehospitalfoundation.com.

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Copywriter and communications consultant at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is a copywriter and communications consultant at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity. Marlene specializes in working with nonprofit clients and has worked in the sector since 1999. Marlene’s approach is to work with clients and community members, tapping into the knowledge and wisdom they already possess, to help the communications ‘flow’.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira