Hospital District hires fundraising consultant

Goettler Group courtesy photo

PINEDALE – The Sublette County Hospital District (SCHD) Board of Trustees convened a special meeting on Jan. 4 to approve a contract for services with John Goettler of the Goettler Group in Jackson to launch a capital campaign to achieve several of the district’s financial goals.

The Goettler Group specializes in managing fundraising campaigns for nonprofits in the health-care industry.

Goettler will team up with Kari DeWitt, SCHD public relations director and the Sublette County Health Foundation director, to prepare a long-term campaign to raise capital to advance health care in Sublette County through charitable giving.

The donations collected through the campaign are largely intended to push the construction of the critical access hospital and new Sublette Center over the fiscal “finish line” and fulfill the SCHD’s goal to equip and operate a surgical center in the hospital, DeWitt said. A functional surgical center will be a significant source of future revenue for the SCHD, DeWitt added.

Goettler’s contract with the SCHD is for six months with fees set at $8,000 per month. The objective for the capital campaign is to raise between $6 million and $10 million, DeWitt said.

Goettler intends to spend at least one day per week in Sublette County and remain “on call” for foundation administration and the SCHD board as needed. Once the six-month contract is up, Goettler told trustees he would meet with them to “reassess” the capital campaign’s progress and timeline and whether Goettler’s services were still needed.

The Goettler Group is headquartered in Jackson, Wyo., and was formed in 2022. Goettler began his career as a nonprofit fundraising consultant 38 years ago while working for the family company in Ohio, Goettler told trustees.

Goettler relocated to Wyoming and served as president of the St. John’s Health Foundation from 2013 to 2022. During his tenure, he spearheaded a “record breaking” campaign that raised $19 million to bring the new Sage Living long-term care facility in Jackson to fruition.

The Goettler Group currently has three clients, including the Star Valley Health Foundation, where Goettler is working on a capital campaign to benefit the new clinic in Alpine. Star Valley Health is the SCHD’s management partner.

Goettler’s first task is developing a written plan for the capital campaign. Careful planning can increase fundraising revenues by more than 60 percent, Goettler said, citing a study conducted by Columbia University.

The next step is composing a “case for support,” a written statement to compel donors to give, Goettler said. The case for support might include the history of health care in Sublette County or a discussion of the SCHD’s future ideas to boost health care in the community.

The SCHD possessed an “outstanding” case for donors in part because Sublette County is the only county in the state without a hospital, Goettler remarked. On the downside, Sublette County lacked a history of capital campaigns, he added.

Successful fundraising involves getting out and “seeing everyone in person,” Goettler said. He emphasized a “soft,” “responsive,” non-manipulative approach to make donating a positive experience.

Part of the process includes identifying potential contributors, from seven-figure donors to SCHD employees and ordinary folks, Goettler noted. Goettler stressed the need to attract “recurring donors,” people willing to make multi-year pledges to fund health-care projects in the community, he added.

Capital campaigns are “team sports,” Goettler said. He looked forward to working with DeWitt and relying on her “great knowledge” of Sublette County.

Trustee Kenda Tanner asked Goettler about the timeframe for the capital campaign and when the SCHD could expect to see results. Goettler replied that he would spend the first month preparing the campaign plan and the case for support. In Febraury, Goettler will meet with SCHD leadership on a campaign steering committee to perfect the organization’s presentation before meeting with potential donors.

In response to a question posed by trustee Ashli Tatro about pursuing donors outside Sublette County, Goettler said neighboring counties offered plenty of potential. Roughly one-third of the patients at St. John’s in Jackson were Sublette County residents, said Goettler. As a result, the St. John’s Health community was an “enormous constituency” of donors.

SCHD board chairwoman Tonia Hoffman said the district is “in need of the help” Goettler can provide as a professional consultant specializing in “multi-purpose fundraising.”

Goettler’s services will primarily “help in the arena of closing the inflationary gap in construction” for the critical access hospital and long-term care facility and “help us focus on completing the surgical center,” Hoffman added.