To that end, REF’s extensive awards and grants program provides more than $10 million each year to fund research, training, and education opportunities for medical students, residents, fellows, clinicians, researchers, and health professionals.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2011
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This past year at each of the meetings of the REF Board of Directors, I reported our progress toward meeting the objectives of our strategic plan. Regarding one such objective, I was delighted to inform the Board that the REF had funded all of the applications graded as “outstanding” for our core programs, affording the “best and brightest” an opportunity to reach their maximum potential.
The Board was also pleased to hear about the continued support from our industry partners through the Industry Roundtable—the monies from which are invested entirely into our core programs. In addition, I shared the new ACR and REF policies and procedures for coordinating fundraising activities. The growth of both organizations and the challenging regulatory climate has required new ways to interact with our donors. It is important to remember that our donors support not only research and training—the mission of the REF—but also the education of our rheumatology workforce, a mission shared between the REF and the ACR.
Finally, I proudly announced that last November, the REF achieved a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest ranking accorded to charitable foundation—a most gratifying result.
What will it take for the REF to meet its ambitious fundraising goals in the future? One focus of the REF will be to grow its base of support from ACR/ARHP members. Last year, 16% of the entire ACR/ARHP membership donated to the REF Annual Giving campaign, totaling $480,946.
Although we are grateful for this level of support, more members need to be persuaded of the value of this investment. We hope, too, that more of our senior members will recognize the wisdom of ensuring the future of rheumatology through planned giving and feel the satisfaction of joining the Legacy Society.
Additionally, the REF must substantially increase its charitable contributions from lay donors. This step in the evolution of the REF is perhaps the most challenging and will be essential to meeting our future goals. It will demand both a renewed commitment from our volunteer health professionals as well as much greater participation from the lay public in fundraising activities, including positions of leadership. I encourage everyone to read “REF Volunteer Brings Passion for Communicating to New Program” as inspiration for how we can help build relationships with those directly affected by rheumatic disease. In addition, our industry partners must continue to appreciate the value of their charitable contributions to the REF. These donations have been vital to the success of our core programs as well as the Within Our Reach grant program.