The Children’s Hos­pi­tal Trust oper­at­ing the­atre com­plex campaign

Exhibited by
February 01, 2011
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, event, press advertising, publications
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family
Country of Origin
South Africa
Date of first appearance
January, 2005

SOFII’s view

This monumental South African campaign reveals how different fundraising techniques can work alongside one another to achieve overall success, as long as there is a clear structure and well-thought-out schedule in place. This exhibit contains learning points for every type of fundraiser.

The Children's Hospital Trust.

Name of exhibitor

Tara van Schalkwyk, The Children's Hospital Trust.

Summary / objectives

The operating theatres in the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital were built as part of the original hospital in 1956 and no longer met the needs of modern theatre practice. With only four theatres and a staggering increase in the number of children requiring surgery, surgeons had to work long hours with out-dated equipment and a lack of space. Over a five-year period (January 2005 to September 2009), the Children's Hospital Trust aimed to raise the R125 million required to build and equip a new surgical facility.


The Children's Hospital Trust was established in 1994. It is an independent organisation and the official fundraising arm of the hospital. Its mandate is to keep the hospital at the cutting edge of paediatric care. Over the past 16 years, the trust has raised over R400 million to build, upgrade and equip the hospital as well as enrich the skills of the staff.

Special characteristics

Several different types of fundraising characterised this five-year campaign.

Before the campaign was launched publicly, several major donations and pledges (over a four-year period) were confirmed as well as a pledge for matched funding from several key donors. Once R40 million had been secured in donations and pledges, the Children's Hospital Trust launched their campaign to the public in conjunction with another large donation for the project.

The public appeal was launched on 16 August 2006 to coincide with the hospital's fiftieth birthday. Using a number of national and international surgical patient case studies, the Children's Hospital Trust were able to ensure human interest in their campaign as well as a significant amount of media coverage. Additionally, they also created a campaign logo, branded advertisements and other materials such as balloons and badges to help to create public recognition and awareness.

To mark the beginning of the appeal, an event entitled the Ultimate Childhood Experience took place in a marquee by the hospital with carnival rides and dancers. This offered the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the key donors to the campaign and to open the appeal formally.

The main public appeal period took place between September 2006 and January 2007. During this time, the Children's Trust organised specific appeals such as a Christmas giving activity that garnered a lot of press activity. Other events also took place, including an art auction.

Once the public appeal had started, in an attempt to increase regular giving, postal appeals were sent to a large number of people including existing donors, lapsed donors, event attendees, hospital alumni and existing hospital staff.

Efforts were also made to secure corporate partnerships throughout the campaign and the trust entered into a partnership with Independent Newspapers, a national newspaper company, and Under the Radar, a Cape Town based advertising agency.


The Children's Hospital Trust reached their ambitious target of R125 million. After the completion of the initial stages of the project, donors were invited to a private function to see how their donations had made a difference. The trust then held a grand opening in September 2009, which involved a comprehensive media campaign. Donors were again invited to be involved and key stakeholders were offered the chance to be included in the media photographs and their Q&A session at the opening event.

An on-going stewardship campaign has been created for all donors and they are kept up-to-date through e-newsletters, the website, or the annual report.


This is a good example of how different types of fundraising can work alongside one another to create a successful campaign with a broad appeal. This impressive exhibit also proves that careful timings and a well-thought out structure can help to maintain a campaign's momentum, which is essential for reaching your end target.

View original image
Press advertising played a large role in this successful campaign.
Donors to the appeal were invited to a private function before the new theatre opened to see how their gifts had made a difference.
After collecting and securing several major donations and pledges, the appeal was launched to the public in August 2006. To mark the beginning of this phase of the appeal, an ‘Ultimate childhood experience’ event took place by the hospital.