Image courtesy of AECOM / Penoyre & Prasad / White Arkitekter
Moorfields Eye Charity
Creating a culture of philanthropy at Moorfields
Eye health is on the cusp of an exciting era. Moorfields Eye Hospital and its academic partner, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, are relocating to a new centre for eye health, currently known as Oriel, in 2026.
Oriel is the joint initiative between Moorfields, UCL and Moorfields Eye Charity that would see current services move to a new, integrated centre built on the St Pancras Hospital site in Camden. Harnessing the expertise of the partners under one roof will enable them to deliver the highest-quality eye care, research and education. When fundraisers at Moorfields Eye Charity and UCL launched a £100m campaign to support this move, they recognised the need to engage their senior leaders, clinicians and academics. Here, Rachel Jones, Director of Development at Moorfields Eye Charity and More Partner, Tim Johnson, explain how they worked collaboratively to build relationships with key individuals at Moorfields and UCL to increase their confidence in fundraising.
Focusing on the challenge
“Our senior leaders, clinicians and academics are some of Moorfields’ most important stakeholders and they have a crucial part to play in fundraising – from facilitating introductions with potential donors to hosting visits and telling the story of Oriel’s impact,” explains Rachel. But, for the majority, fundraising has never been part of their day job so getting them to recognise their role and actively participate in fundraising was going to be a big ask.
Rachel also wants Oriel to be a centre based on philanthropy so that everyone, from those involved in delivering or receiving care to those working across research or education understand the important role of fundraising in contributing to its success. To achieve this, the charity had been asking: ‘how do we deliver coaching for our key stakeholders to embed a culture of philanthropy?’ And ‘how can we build their confidence in us as professional fundraisers?’ That’s where, in Rachel’s words, “More’s Tim Johnson – and his wealth of philanthropy experience from within the health trust sector – proved invaluable.”
Bringing an external perspective whilst fitting right in
“From the moment Tim came on board, he took time to understand our set-up, our values and our opportunities” says Rachel. Smiling as she recalls how Tim was able to softly challenge some of the assumptions she and her colleagues had made: “We had honest conversations from the start and he helped us to take things in a different, more impactful, direction. We were able to talk openly and honestly with Tim because we felt like one team.” As a result, Tim, Rachel, and UCL’s Deputy Head of Major Gifts (Health), Sarah Medd-Philips, co-created a philanthropy coaching programme for Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology’s senior leaders, clinicians, health practitioners and researchers.
Developing relationships and building confidence
First on the agenda was an interactive session to give the fundraisers a better understanding of the hospital and institute’s internal stakeholders and mitigate against some of the barriers that prevent these extremely busy professionals from fundraising.
Next up, senior leaders, clinicians and academics were brought together with the fundraisers for two workshops. These set the tone for everything that followed, as Tim notes: “With one workshop being opened by Moorfields Eye Hospital’s Chief Executive, and the other by the Director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, it was immediately clear to attendees that fundraising is very important to both the creation of Oriel and its future.” Participants at the workshop then explored the landscape of fundraising in the health charity sector and considered who is likely to make a gift, including grateful patients, and their motivations for donating. Attendees also explored the different roles and responsibilities in fundraising to develop a sense that they were all part of one team. As Tim says, “This gave everyone present the confidence to recognise fundraising opportunities as they arise.”
The significance of Tim delivering this session is not lost on Rachel who says, “Tim’s credentials, not least his success at Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity and with other health trusts across the UK, carried great weight in the hospital environment. Hearing him talk, in his unassuming way, about his experience gave the session real authority.” With this session, it became clear to everyone – even those who had very little fundraising experience – that the programme of philanthropy at Moorfields was based on solid evidence. “It was a pivotal moment for us”, adds Rachel. “Suddenly, the academics and clinicians we rely on recognised the professionalism of fundraising and understood that it is a science, as much as an art.”
By the end of the session, senior leaders, clinicians and academics had a much clearer idea of how they could support the hospital and institute through fundraising. “It was exhilarating to witness a room full of experts in their fields register how exciting fundraising can be,” recalls Tim. “It persuaded these influential professionals that fundraising is something they want to be part of.”
Tim also delivered practical training for fundraisers to enable them to develop their relationships with clinicians and researchers. This helped the fundraisers work in partnership with key individuals at Moorfields and UCL to enhance the contribution they make to support fundraising. Tim also created a bespoke tool kit for fundraisers which explores the ethics of grateful patient fundraising and a framework for best practice. According to Rachel, “Two years on, we still use the tool kit to deliver training and develop relationships with our influential colleagues because, simply, it works.”
More than bricks and mortar
Reflecting on the programme, Rachel says the biggest change is an increase in confidence. Not only are the fundraisers more assured in engaging senior leaders, clinicians and academics, these important stakeholders in turn have confidence in maximising fundraising opportunities and working with the fundraising team. As Rachel concludes, “We’ve been able to start building more than just a hospital, but a culture of philanthropy for Oriel which is exactly what we set out to achieve. We’re now moving forward with our fundraising to create a centre for eye health that will deliver the highest-quality care, research and education which will change the lives of more patients and people with sight problems around the world faster than ever before.”
What they say
What stands out is the way More invests in understanding their clients – both the organisation and the individuals within it. They skilfully bring the gravitas and perspective of an external party whilst also embedding themselves quickly into the internal team. And they work collaboratively every step of the way, enabling an open, transparent, dialogue. The philanthropy programme we created is still a fundamental part of our work and that’s testament to what we built together, under More’s leadership.
Director of Development, Moorfields Eye Charity
What we say
It was a privilege to work with Rachel and her colleagues at Moorfields Eye Charity and at UCL, who are terrific, passionate, fundraisers. We co-created the coaching programme through regular catch-ups and development meetings, tweaking our plans as we went along and we felt like one team from start to finish. It was a joy to see a culture of philanthropy emerge to underpin this new, world-leading, centre which is set to revolutionise eye health and transform patients’ lives.
Partner, More Partnership
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