Perhaps the most personally rewarding aspect of working with the ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF) is seeing the success that can come from setting lofty goals. First and foremost, the REF is a goal-oriented organization. The staff and volunteers are not only committed to the goal of ensuring the future of rheumatology, but they aspire to reach high and to lead in this effort.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2011
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The success of the recently completed Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign is a prime example of the power of this approach, and of the effectiveness of this organization. When the ACR identified a critical need for basic and clinical research in RA that coincided with a glaring gap in funding for research in the field by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the REF set a goal of addressing this need and embarked on a new and bold campaign to raise funds for disease-targeted research. The organization had never attempted a targeted campaign or any fundraising effort close to this size, and some questioned whether it would be possible. Yet, with deliberate and strategic planning, tireless work by a competent and professional development team, and committed volunteer leadership, the campaign surpassed its $30-million goal in its fifth year, as planned. Among the many accomplishments of this program, the research funded by the Within Our Reach campaign has already led to a remarkable $59 million in additional related research grants funded by the NIH.
During the course of the campaign, the REF received a top four-star Charity Navigator designation in recognition of the organization’s outstanding stewardship in channeling more than 90% of all funds raised directly to fund rheumatology training and career development research grants. Another goal of this campaign, established from the outset, was to enhance the fundraising potential of the organization. This goal has also been realized, and the REF now has an experienced and effective development staff in place. Thus, as we look forward to a new fundraising campaign, there is the strong sense in the organization that, at the same time we set the next lofty goal, we are now also engaged in “business as usual,” because this is what we do, and we do it well.
Those of you who attended the recent ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago may have seen the first announcement of our new $60-million campaign, Journey to Cure. This campaign moves the REF forward from our previous fundraising successes and encompasses funding for the REF’s two mission priorities—rheumatology training and career development, and disease-targeted research. Journey to Cure serves as a rallying point to expand these mission priorities on a scale never before achieved.