As I assume the presidency of the REF, I reflect on the accomplishments of the organization over the past two years, and I wish to thank my immediate predecessor, Leslie J. Crofford, MD, for her tremendous leadership. The achievements of the REF during her term have been truly impressive.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2009
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Looking forward, the REF will continue its mission of advancing research and training to improve the health of people with rheumatic diseases with the guidance of its new strategic plan for 2010–2012.
As I look at the goals for the next three years, I realize that matching the remarkable progress of the past two years will be challenging, given the current health of the economy. The REF is tightening its belt and preparing to squarely meet these financial challenges. We recognize that donations from the pharmaceutical industry may be more challenging in the current financial and political environment, as companies attempt to deal with the economic downturn and the healthcare industry faces increasing calls for transparency. However, we also see the tremendous upside that can come from increasing our support from individual donors, giving us reason for optimism moving forward.
Despite these uncertainties, the new strategic plan has set aggressive goals for the REF over the next three years (see Table 1, above right). For its core programs, the REF will strive to fund all outstanding applications, increasing the number of awards as needed to reach this level of support. The REF will also maintain its commitment to disease-targeted research, which will likely extend the Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign and possibly expand the research imperatives. Achieving these goals will naturally increase expectations on the fundraising side and require a new multipronged set of goals and strategies to be successful.
TABLE 1: REF Strategic Plan 2010–2012
- Strive to fund 100% of core awards applications that achieve “outstanding” ratings in the peer-review process.
- Maintain a commitment to disease-targeted research initiatives.
- Coordinate fundraising and donor activities with the ACR and ARHP.
- Increase nonpharmaceutical funding to 25% of total funding and maintain or increase the amount of pharmaceutical funding.
- Increase the number of new donors by 5% per year, and increase the total amount received from donors by 10% per year.
- Gain recognition of the REF brand as the premier private funding source for rheumatology research and training.
- Ensure an average of 90% of all expenses is designated for program services.
Two of these goals reflect an aim to increase the efficiency of fundraising across the ACR, REF, and ARHP. First, we plan to establish a joint task force that will coordinate fundraising and donor activities across the entire organization. Presently, the roles and responsibilities for these activities are somewhat fragmented across the various parts of the organization, so we expect an integrated fundraising effort will result in greater donations, a more unified solicitation of funding sources, and improvement in donor satisfaction.