Young ProfessionalsAs long-standing associations struggle to create relevance for new and younger members, many are finding success with young professionals groups. One such story is the Children’s Hospital of Illinois (CHOI) whose young professionals group is raising money and awareness in creative ways.

When two young women, Angela Martin-Moushon and Tara Rossman, joined the CHOI Development Committee to assist with fundraising and educational awareness, it wasn’t long before they began to understand the critical role the hospital played in their local community and surrounding area. They took it upon themselves to form a young professionals group and named themselves H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Patients Every Day).  Just 5 months after their inaugural meeting they hosted their first event, a Murder Mystery Dinner, which raised about $4,000 — but more importantly increased awareness about HOPE and CHOI.

With about 30 active members, the HOPE team is working to identify other groups in the community that are frequented by the younger generations and plans to reach out to those organizations to tell their story. The group is growing organically, with one or two new members recruited each month.

Melody Berry, Senior Vice President of Employer Services for the OSF Health Care System (CHOI is a part of the OSF system), says once they gave the HOPE team the knowledge they needed about the hospital, it was time to step back and let them run. “HOPE brings the ideas, the creativity, the energy, and the planning for the events and the Foundation staff is providing assistance and support to them,” explains Berry.

Many associations try to control their young professionals and in doing so, squash the enthusiasm of the group. Giving them the freedom and flexibility to maximize their time for service often leads to fresh ideas, enthusiasm and growth in this sector of membership. This can mean a change of mindset when it comes to expectations. “Don’t put undue pressure on meeting attendance. Learn to manage communications and action plans via email or other technology in order to avoid constraining individuals and to maximize participation,” advises Berry.

In their first 12 months HOPE has raised over $6,000 for the hospital, sponsoring events including a Mystery Dinner, a “Splashdown” event at a local water park, and “Zoo Hullaballoo” aimed at young families. They are currently planning their first “big” fundraiser — a 5K Extreme Race called “Fight to the Finish” to be held in April 2013. The HOPE team has already secured nearly $15,000 in sponsorship commitments.

Empowerment is key to the success of the HOPE group and Berry shares this advice for other executives interested in harnessing the power of young professionals: “Encourage them, guide them and let them go.”