The Office of Advancement of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia was formed in 2015 by the merging of two departments: the Communications Department and the Development Department, which were created in 1988 and 1987, respectively. The functions of the Office of Advancement include all aspects of fundraising; public relations for the entire College; and administration of the Fellowship and Friends of the Mütter, a membership program open to the public which supports the Mütter Museum.
During the summer of 1986, the Council of the College of Physicians authorized the establishment of a permanent development operation for the institution. In past decades the College had conducted a series of fund raising projects primarily undertaken by volunteer leaders among the Fellowship. Although these efforts had been reasonably successful, the needs of the College were now such that a sustained program, staffed by a development
professional, was in order. A. Jerry Condon was recruited to serve as the Director of Development for the College and began work on October 1, 1987.
Immediately upon his arrival, Condon and John O'Donnell, Executive Director of the College, undertook an assessment of the development activities of the College. Prior to Condon's arrival, working with outside counsel, the institution had embarked on a capital campaign, the New Century Fund, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the College's founding. A feasibility study had been conducted, a campaign leadership structure established, a needs assessment undertaken, and a solicitation of the Council and Fellowship attempted. Condon and O'Donnell took note of certain fundamental changes and additions which were needed to conduct a successful campaign and establish a successful development operation for the future of the College.
The College did not maintain adequate records on prospective major donors. There was a need for a computerized record keeping system to support the fundraising, gift recording, and stewardship efforts. The College needed a bequests program and an organized planned giving effort. The annual giving program to sustain current operations had been suspended and had to be reinstated. Gift associations had to be established and a system of donor recognition had to be set up. Proper oversight of the pooled life income fund had to be undertaken. The case statement for the College had to be rewritten. Approaches to corporations and foundations had to be formulated. The capital campaign had to be reoriented to a strategy which focused first on major gifts. A campaign schedule had to be set up and policies and procedures adopted.
The College had historically been viewed as a Fellowship of distinguished physicians who, through association with one and other, promote medical competence and high standards. The organization of Fellows was the College. Its sustenance was viewed primarily as the responsibility of those who joined. However, the institution, through its library, museum, special events function, and Wood Institute served many public purposes apart from the fellowship. The central role of the Fellowship was clearly understood. However, the College had not been consistently recognized as an important cultural and education resource by neither the Fellowship nor the general public.
Having identified certain needs in the development operation, the Director of Development set about the task of addressing them. An annual giving solicitation was undertaken in November of 1987. Letters were drafted to address different segments of the Fellowship and friends of the College.
Upon refocusing the New Century Fund campaign toward the acquisition of major lead gifts, it followed that a variety of methods of giving had to be presented to enable donors to consider larger contributions. A planned giving program was needed. During December of 1987, a draft of a planned giving brochure was circulated among the Council and a presentation on this subject was arranged. Harold Measley, an attorney who specialized in estate planning, volunteered for this position. A review of direct mail programs for planned giving was also undertaken, with the expectation that this component of the new development operation would be introduced in the fall of 1988.
For most of its history, the College of Physicians had maintained a relatively low public profile. Yet, frequently in meetings with the Planning and Development Committee, the Board of Advisors, and in other discussions about the activities of the College, the need for a more assertive public relations effort was raised. The College Night series; the Medicine and Society effort; the visit by President Ronald Reagan; the activities of the Library, Wood Institute, and the Mutter Museum; and numerous other events taking place at the College would clearly benefit from the greater press coverage and public promotion. Internal communications among the Fellowship could be vastly improved with additional staff support. Although the development and public relations functions were commonly recognized as distinct activities, voluntary support for institutions was clearly enhanced by good promotional programs. To strengthen the College's public profile, promote greater public awareness of its programs, and improve internal communications with the Fellowship, a full time position, the Director of Communications, was authorized in May. Cathryne Foedisch was hired as the new director in June and began her appointment on July 6, 1987.
In conjunction with the addition of a Director of Communications, plans were undertaken to assign organizational responsibility for public relations, special events, and membership activities to the Development Office. These closely related functions were thus viewed as elements of an institutional advancement program for the College. This new organizational structure was officially adopted as of July 1, 1987.
While some organizational changes were made over the next 28 years, the responsibilities of the Department of Communications and the Development Office remained similar to those when the offices were first created. The Communications Department functions and Development Department functions were combined into the Office of Advancement in 2015.
Currently, as of November 2016, the Office of Advancement has the following functions:
Development (all aspects of fundraising); marketing and public relations, including graphics design/printed material, social media, the website, database;
Fellowship, including annual meetings and special events; and Friends of the Mütter.