Volunteer Association

Introduction  ||  Board presidents  ||  Milestones
A brief history:  Origins  ||  Fundraising  ||  The volunteer program  ||  The legacy

A brief history: Fundraising

Fundraising Activities

Raffle Approval Letter, 1946
Raffle Approval Letter, 1946. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. (SMH Archives)
The 65 women who met to form an Auxiliary in 1920 had enthusiasm but no visible means of support. Undaunted, they embarked upon a path of fundraising in order to further support the hospital. Their first successful fundraising venture occurred in 1921, in the form of a large bridge and euchre party. At the end of the event, funds were turned over to the Mother Superior to buy sewing supplies and to support the new Nurses' Residence.

From this early start, the Auxiliary embraced the idea of raising much-needed funds for the hospital. Minutes from the early period reveal luncheons at the Granite Club and Rosedale Golf Club, buffet dinner dances at the Embassy Club, Casa Loma and the Park Plaza Hotel. In 1924, the Auxiliary provided five teams of 10 workers each to assist with a new capital campaign for building funds. But in spite of valiant efforts, financial reverses were experienced in the early years. At times, willingness to respond to hospital requests exceeded fundraising abilities. There were deficits, and there were times of solvency. It was not until June 1951 that the Auxiliary could boast a bank balance which exceeded $1,000.

Individual fundraising events continued to be held, but not until 1965, when the Gift Shop was opened in the Queen Street Lobby (followed by the Auxiliary taking over the Tuck Shop in 1966), did the Auxiliary have a continuing stream of income.

The Gift Shop, 1965
The Gift Shop, 1965. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. (SMH Archives)
The steady growth of the two shops provided a firmer financial base for Auxiliary projects. Commissions from television rentals added a third component to the base.

However, the need to raise additional funds to support hospital projects remained a constant factor in determining Auxiliary activities and events such as the Christmas Bazaar which continued right up to 2012.

In 1990, with the creation of the Hospital’s Foundation, the organizational focus on fundraising shifted away from the Auxiliary and onto the Foundation. Nevertheless, the Auxiliary continued to oversee the proceeds of the Gift Shop and the hospital lottery until 2013.

Fundraising Outcomes

The impact of the Auxiliary’s fundraising has been felt throughout the history of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Christmas Bazaar, 1983
Christmas Bazaar, 1983. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. (SMH Archives)
The use of the funds that were raised expanded over the years from the purchase of supplies for the Sewing Group to more organizational goals. Up to 1965, the Auxiliary concentrated its funding on many department level activities (medical equipment, appliances, television sets, furniture, wheelchairs, etc.).

With greater financial stability after 1965, funds could be directed towards larger capital projects. The Auxiliary was a major donor to specific renovations and equipment purchases, including medical imaging suites (1977), a renal unit (1981), labs (1983), 61 Queen health centre (1989/1990), the breast centre (1992), a trauma unit (1995), plus ophthalmology (2000) and neonatal resuscitation equipment (2006).

In addition to specific units, the Auxiliary has also been a supporter of hospital development. In each of 1976, 1984 and 1989, the Auxiliary made multi-year donation commitments of $500,000 to the hospital Building Fund. These funds would allow the Hospital to expand to meet the needs of our patients. Support for research has also been a continuing interest of the volunteer organization. Between 1967 and 1995, donations for research and community health programs exceeded $600,000.

Volunteer Association Helipad
Volunteer Association Helipad. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. (SMH Archives)
The scale of the Auxiliary’s donations has also provided for the opportunity for some “naming rights” that will enshrine the contribution of this fundraising for the hospital: the Volunteer Association Helipad (2003), the Volunteer Association Maternal and Children’s Health Laboratory, LKSKI (2006) and the Volunteer Association Chair in Nursing Research (2012).

A retrospective survey of Auxiliary contributions to St. Michael's Hospital reveals total donations which can be documented in the amount of five million dollars. But because of fragmentary records, this figure does not include each and every donation of money, gifts of equipment, furnishings or renovation costs. The enduring legacy of their fundraising can be seen in the growth and development of St. Michael’s Hospital.