An intrepid team of Mass General employees won the annual My Giving Helps employee picnic fundraising competition with their creative use of old-fashioned fundraising techniques to support the MGH Fund.

Victory was particularly sweet this year for an upstart team of Massachusetts General Hospital employees, led by a baker, Jimmy J. Quirk, to win an annual fundraising competition to benefit the MGH Fund.

Every spring, Mass General departments form teams to compete at the annual employee picnic as part of a broader fundraising effort called My Giving Helps: The MGH Fund + United Way employee campaign. In recent years, online technology has played a big role. Employees created web pages and email campaigns for teams with catchy names like the Beam Team (radiation and radiation oncology) and The Guardians of Ether (anesthesia, critical care and pain medicine).

The MGH Fund provides unrestricted support for Mass General’s most urgent needs and opportunities.

But this year’s competition was different.

A new team, called “Together as One,” took top honors, exceeding their fundraising goal more than twice over. They did it with a strategy that was grassroots and spot-on smart.

Together As One stitched together a diverse range of employees from Nutrition and Food Services, Buildings and Grounds, Environmental Services and Materials Management. To win top-donor bragging rights and help a worthy cause close to home, they went off line, relying on bakes sales, cash donations, word-of-mouth and posters.They raised more funds than any other team.

The MGH Fund

The MGH Fund provides unrestricted support for Mass General’s most urgent needs and opportunities. These include groundbreaking research, innovative technologies and state-of-the-art clinical centers. The MGH Fund also supports programs that give patients access to the latest clinical trials and promising treatments.

Competing in the life-size game of Operation at the Mass General employee picnic, Together as One rallied to support the MGH Fund.
Competing in the life-size game of Operation at the Mass General employee picnic, Together as One rallied to support the MGH Fund.

“We are thrilled,” says Peter L. Slavin, MD, Mass General president. “Having employees go all out to support Mass General speaks volumes about their commitment to Mass General and their passion for helping others.”

This year, employee teams involved in the picnic competition raised a total of $31,158, with all proceeds benefitting the MGH Fund. Of the eight teams, Together as One came out on top by raising $11,675, a sum that won the team coveted extra minutes for competition in the popular life-size game of “Operation” at the employee picnic. Total annual employee donations to My Giving Helps often exceed $1 million supporting both the MGH Fund and the United Way.

The team captain was Jimmy J. Quirk, the affable assistant manager of Mass General Bakery Operations for 17 years. “I love working here. I have fun every day,” the 51-year-old says. Before joining Mass General, he owned the former Avenue Bakery in Dorchester, where he began his career at age 14, washing pots and pans after school. Today, Jimmy creates such signature sweets as Mass General’s best-selling Be-Fit muffin and Chocolate Delicious (an adult-style Ring Ding).

“I knew we were going to win before we started,” he says with a chuckle. “We all took it seriously and we went for it.”

The team decided to go low-tech, choosing to raise cash-only donations as part of a series of fun events …

Together as One Success

With team members in four different departments, getting them engaged in the fundraising campaign was a challenge. “We knew online contributions weren’t the answer,” Jimmy says.

The team decided to go low-tech, choosing to raise cash-only donations as part of a series of fun events over four weeks. And they went old-school marketing: flyers saturating the kitchen area, hospital bulletin boards and electronic monitors used by Buildings and Grounds and Environmental Services staff members.

“And, of course, we did a lot of one-on-one and word of mouth,” explains Joan Shea, director of Nutrition and Food Services, who served as the team’s coach.

Bake Sales and Jeans Friday

Bake sales, of course, kicked off their campaign. Jimmy and his staff made hundreds of irresistible fruit tarts and tea breads in different flavors — blueberry crumb, lemon walnut and coconut mango — which sold for $6 each in the cafeteria.

Team members from Buildings and Grounds held weekly giveaways of prizes to thank their fellow employees for their efforts and to maintain the enthusiasm. Donated prizes included Red Sox and Celtics tickets, a baking day with Jimmy and a 55-inch TV that an Environmental Services employee procured.

“None of us could have been successful just on our own.”

And Materials Management led a “Jeans to Work” campaign for four Fridays in May, with employees paying $5 for a one-day break from uniforms. Some immediately paid $20 for all four Fridays. To build participation, they wore a little badge that said, “I’m wearing jeans because I contributed to the MGH Fund.”

“We were surprised at how well it went over,” Joan says. “Even senior leadership wore jeans.”

Team members, in addition to captain Jimmy, included Dulce Cardona-Rivera (Materials Management), Sharon Grace (Buildings and Grounds), Dan Sullivan (Nutrition and Food Services) and Melvin Caban (Environmental Services), in addition to many others who participated behind the scenes “None of us could have been successful just on our own,” Jimmy says.

For more information or to donate to the MGH Fund, please contact us.