Sick Kids Launches Activator Program for Children’s Health

Sick Kids Activators
Sick Kids Activators

By Sheri De Carlo

The Hospital for Sick Children recently announced one of the biggest and most ambitious fundraising programs in Canadian history. With $1.3 billion as the goal, the world-renowned children’s hospital is taking a new approach to working with young professionals interested in leading their own fundraising events on behalf of the hospital. Sick Kids hosted the latest Activators educational session on leadership and motivation on November 28, 2017 at Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning.

“We started a program that empowers people who have a passion for fundraising and event management. It is meant to function as a incubator for event management. If you have a concept for an event, we can help you,” says Maksym Stolyarevskyy, Business Development Manager, Sick Kids Foundation.

Sick Kids Activators
Sick Kids Activators

By joining Sick Kids in the fight against the greatest challenges in child health, Sick Kids Activators create and manage a fundraising event to raise a minimum of $10,000. Sick Kids offers mentorship from Sick Kids Foundation professionals, recognition from the hospital, professional and networking opportunities, and marketing through Sick Kids Foundation digital channels. The funds raised help world-renowned doctors, nurses and researchers engage in the ongoing fight against childhood illness, and toward purchasing the equipment required to win the battles.

“As more people turn to social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to receive news and updates on what’s going on around them, it’s increasingly important that PR and marketing pros embrace digital channels to promote and support events and fundraising campaigns—before, during and after they happen,” says Beki Winchel, Event Producer for Ragan Communications and freelance writer.

Jamie Lamont, Director of Special Events at the Sick Kids Foundation, offers his best practices in event management:

Cast your net wide. “I think the challenge is to think outside the common network when you think about developing committee, cast your net as wide as possible, make sure committee is diverse and as wide as possible.”
Set expectations early. “Lay out details on what you’re expecting committee members to do and perform.”
Don’t take it all on yourself. “Set the rules on playing field, so everyone knows what they’re responsible for and subcommittees within their group.”

“Our jobs are interesting because we get to raise money every day for a children’s hospital. To walk through the hospital is inspiring and grounding all at once. You see the families and the patients fighting their various battles and that really brings things into perspective. It’s not about what we do, it’s about what we do as a group. It’s not up to you to change the world, you can just do your best,” says Lamont.

Peggy Capitain has led a team of volunteers to collectively raise over $160,000 on behalf of the Sick Kids Foundation.

Peggy Capitain, Manager, Strategic Workforce Initiatives at RBC
Peggy Capitain, Manager, Strategic Workforce Initiatives at RBC

“People are in the heart of any charitable events. You need the right people to execute a successful fundraising campaign; people who share the same vision, passion, and dedication as you.” says Capitain. She is Manager, Strategic Workforce Initiatives at RBC and her workplace is highly supportive of her volunteering efforts. “Volunteers not only generously donate their time and efforts; they bring energy, skills and experiences to the table. We have to respect the value they bring and provide an engaging and meaningful experience to create a rewarding win-win partnership.”

Building a (new) team
Why should they join your team?
What’s your value proposition? What’s in it for them?
What differentiates you from other charities? How do you find the right talent?

1) Think about your purpose
What are you trying to accomplish with your event?

2) Define your culture
What kind of team do you want to have?
What kind of work environment will your team create?

3) What are your goals?
What do you want to achieve and when?

4) What do you need help with?
Do you offer meaningful opportunities?

By supporting the efforts of fundraising superstars, organizations are seeing significant results. SickKids Foundation has raised $570 million to date. Sunnybrook Foundation founded Next Generation in 2014 and continues to build a strong core group of volunteer leaders who are passionate about Sunnybrook and health care. Sunnybrook provides professional and social networking opportunities to members and the young professional community at large. The organization has raised over $750,000 since it’s inception, and raises over $300k annually in support of the Sunnybrook Research Institute and other high priority needs of the hospital.

“Everyone who joins Next Generation has an empowered role and we try to educate them about all the great work that goes on at Sunnybrook. They really are ambassadors of Sunnybrook and philanthropy,” says Sandra Mapa, Advancement Officer at Sunnybrook Foundation.

“Rather than blasting out promotional messages, communicators should instead focus on content that potential attendees and/or donors find valuable. It’s all about captivating your audience, and there are a multitude of ways to achieve this. Set an event and/or campaign hashtag, and feature content from engaged stakeholders. Interview event speakers or organization ambassadors and repurpose those interviews in articles as well as social media videos and posts. Create interesting visuals with powerful messages and your website or hashtag.

All of these efforts can draw people to check out your event or fundraising effort, take part and even get others involved. Above all, make your stakeholders part of the story—and they’ll want it to be told,” says Winchel.

By offering engaging opportunities, support and guidance, and challenges that help people grow, providing support and clear accountability, encouraging creativity and innovation, embracing digital channels to promote and support events and fundraising campaigns—before, during and after they happen, and making everyone feel welcome – these are the steps on the path to ensure your event is a success!

To learn more about the Sick Kids Activator program:

To donate to the foundation on behalf of Sick Kids, please click here.

To learn more on how to join Sunnybrook Next Generation, please click here

To donate to the foundation on behalf of Sunnybrook Hospital, please click here



  1. Sick Kids has done so much for my oldest son. They are a wonderful hospital and I feel blessed that we live in the same city as them. Such a great program.

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