Since announcing its intention to build a freestanding children's hospital in Springdale a year ago, Arkansas Children’s Hospital has been visiting with community leaders to build “a tapestry of support” for the project that is both needed and wanted, according to Chief Development Officer Fred Scarborough.
He said the organization has been “extremely encouraged” by and grateful for the $45.5 million that has been raised for the hospital so far.
The new facility is projected to cost $167 million to build and an estimated $427.7 million over the next five years. The hospital is set to open in January 2018, and a strategic plan for growth was released last year.
The latest in string of $1 million-plus donations was announced Tuesday, when the Tyson family and Tyson Foods Inc. said they’d give $15 million. It came on the heels of a Saturday announcement that Robin and Gary George of Springdale would donate $1 million.
Others who have donated to the hospital include J.B. Hunt Transport Services of Lowell ($5 million), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Walmart Foundation ($8 million).
Scarborough said, “The strategy at play would be the strategic investment as it is meaningful to each of the donor families...We need these leaders to step forward and make very generous contributions, as they have, and really set the stage for others stepping forward to help and make their own investment.”
He said his staff worked with the families and businesses to make sure the timing and investment was right for them and “the impact was absolutely evident along the way.”
The gifts have been announced separately, sometimes on a daily basis. Scarborough doesn’t believe the multiple announcements diminish their impact because this is an “ongoing conversation” that instead reinforces the urgency of this project.
He also said donors wanted the news to be released in a way so that the community would be hearing from them as a group and the message that they support Arkansas Children’s vision for a better today and healthier tomorrow is consolidated.
Scarborough said he views the one-after-the-other announcements as inclusive invitations to others who could donate and hopes the announcements will encourage them to come forward with gifts.
The organization, Scarborough said, initially approached the Georges and Gary George's sister and brother-in-law, Cathy and David Evans, about providing the 37 acres where the hospital will now be built.
He said Arkansas Children’s reached out to them and others who have invested years, even generations, into growing northwest Arkansas and persuaded them that the new ACH campus was the right next step. His staff spoke to people who have long-standing relationships with the hospital and people who had supported ACH’s efforts in the region, like its clinic in Lowell.
Scarborough said the staff sought to get them involved in the process by talking about the project with other potential investors.
He said, although this is a unique project, ACH will approach as they do every other project: by putting kids first. Leaders will forge connections with patients in a “caring community” as generosity transforms it, Scarborough said.
He added that part of the organization's marketing strategy is to push the value of the hospital, with patients front and center as a reminder of its mission.
Scarborough also said this project is an opportunity to serve children in a way customized for a specific community it had already been serving. “This gave us the chance to sit back and say, ’How might we best do this?’”
Scarborough said he hoped announcements of major gifts would continue through the fall.