St Michael’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion: Liv­ing in a mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional world

Exhibited by
Lara Banks, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, St. Michael’s Foundation
April 12, 2017
Medium of Communication
Donor communications/stewardship
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
October 2016

SOFII’s view

St Michael’s Hospital and Foundation show that, with an injection of creativity and a bit more thought, organisations can create magazines that are compelling and informative for their donors. Since the marketing and communications team reinvented Urban Angel it has gone from strength to strength and the autumn 2016 edition was their most successful to date.

Summary / objectives

  • To promote and raise awareness of St Michael’s Hospital and Foundation.
  • To demonstrate donor stewardship efforts and inspire giving.
  • To profile and thank donors through formal recognition.
  • To position St Michael’s as a trusted health-care advisor and promote its staff members as ‘experts’ on key health and wellness issues.
  • To recognise St Michael’s staff members who are partners in fundraising.
  • To tell poignant patient stories that demonstrate the exceptional care provided at St Michael’s.


St Michael’s Foundation inspires greatness through giving. Through various philanthropic activities, the Foundation assists St Michael’s Hospital with securing the resources it needs to fulfil its mission of providing compassionate care and advancing science through research and education.

The support of generous, committed donors is behind the ongoing success of St Michael’s. To keep these key stakeholders informed about the impact their support has on the Hospital, the Foundation’s marketing and communications 

(M & C) team produces a bi-annual health and lifestyle publication called Urban Angel magazine.

Urban Angel is a key marketing communications and stewardship tool that helps the Foundation retain and attract donors; boost donations by demonstrating the impact of giving and inspiring future giving; build the St. Michael’s community; keep in touch with stakeholders who may not be online; educate and inform stakeholders about hospital news and programs; and encourage readers to take action and support our cause.

The magazine has a solid reputation and is incredibly well received by donors, patients and staff alike. The publication has also been recognised by the marketing communications industry with a number of prestigious awards, including APEX awards for publication excellence and a first place Health Care Public Relations Association (HCPRA) award for best external communications vehicle. Most recently, Urban Angel was honoured with a 2016 Gold Aster award for excellence in health-care marketing and advertising.

The target audiences for the magazine include:

  • Donors and potential donors
  • Patients, families and visitors
  • Hospital physicians and staff
  • Volunteers
  • Board of directors
  • Local community within our catchment area
  • Media

Volume 7 of Urban Angel magazine explored the ever-relevant theme of ‘living in a multi-generational world’ and is the most successful issue the Foundation has produced to date. 

Creator / originator

The M & C team at St Michael’s Foundation creates the publication with support from an outside design agency. The M & C team provides overall creative direction, develops original content and oversees photoshoots for the magazine.

Special characteristics

The theme explored in volume 7 of Urban Angel is ‘living in a multi-generational world’. Given the fact that we are at a pivotal point in history wherein six generations co-exist at once, this timely theme resonated extremely well with our various audiences. The eye-catching cover image of a baby lying in a crib beneath a mobile that features symbols for each of the six generations strongly depicted the theme and was well received. 

In the inside front cover, we ‘decoded’ the mobile on the cover by defining each of the generation types and assigning them a representative symbol that was carried throughout the magazine as a visual cue: a poppy for baby boomers, a peace sign for boomers, a Rubik’s Cube for generation X, a bottle of green juice for generation Y/millennials, a digital watch for generation Z and a question mark for the generation to come.

Special feature articles that aligned with the issue’s theme explored myriad topics that are of interest to various age groups, such as demystifying inter-generational myths, preventative health measures for life stages and historical exercise crazes that have taken the world by storm.

This issue of Urban Angel also included a feature article on migraines called ‘Not Just a Headache’ that has since become one of our most popular articles, appealing to readers’ interests. When the article was posted online on the Foundation’s website, it received one of our highest click-through rates and was one of our top five most visited web pages in February 2017.

An interview with St Michael’s chief of critical care, Dr Andrew Baker, on the hospital’s mission to become the premier critical care hospital in Canada was also included.

 Finally, Margaret Harvey’s highly publicised patient story was also featured in the fall (autumn) 2016 issue. Margaret was hit and crushed by a Toronto garbage truck in 2012 while riding her bike to work and was subsequently rushed to St Michael’s for emergency life-saving surgery. Her story gained significant media attention and she is now working with St Michael’s Hospital to create a trauma support network for people who have been hit by cars.

Urban Angel magazine has become a fundamental marketing communications and stewardship tool for the Foundation. The publication not only showcases the exceptional work being done in the areas of research, education and day-to-day care at St. Michael’s, but also demonstrates the immense gratitude of patients and the unwavering commitment of the hospital’s donors, partners and friends. Urban Angel has amassed a committed following of readers since its inception and has developed a positive reputation as a trusted health and lifestyle resource.

An electronic preview of the magazine is made available on the Foundation’s website twice a year. Rather than post the magazine in its entirety online, the Foundation only makes a few key spreads available to readers. The strategy behind teasing the magazine’s content is to entice readers to become donors and/or sign up for the Foundation’s mailing list in order to access full content. This strategy has proved successful in both attracting new donors and growing the magazine’s readership. 

Influence / impact

The fall 2016 issue of Urban Angel is the most successful issue the Foundation has produced to date, from both an anecdotal and financial standpoint. Circulated to over 55,000 people through a variety of channels – including via the Toronto Star, direct mail to annual programme donors and distribution across the hospital’s various clinics and satellite offices – this issue generated over $135,000 in revenue for St Michael’s. Positive praise from hospital staff continues to pour in – most recently, from a trio of nurses who stopped us in the cafeteria while distributing magazines: ‘We get so excited whenever Urban Angel comes out!’ they exclaimed. We’ve also received several emails from readers, illustrating the far-reaching impact of this issue: ‘I just wanted to say how impressed I am with your Urban Angel magazine … I admire the broad appeal to all.’ 

Why do you think this exhibit merits a place in SOFII?

We are extremely proud of Urban Angel magazine. Since we reinvented the newsletter in 2014 – turning it from a typical broadsheet into a glossy magazine –we continue to push the envelope in terms of what is expected from a hospital fundraising publication. The strong visuals coupled with the compelling copy have had a dramatic impact on readership and efforts to build relationships with donor relations. The magazine demonstrates a unique visual approach to donor communications and still fulfils our primary objectives of raising awareness of St Michael’s, promoting hospital initiatives and tips for healthy living and inspiring giving. We believe Urban Angel outperforms when it comes to stewardship efforts and, therefore, merits a place in SOFII.