Graeme Webster is a successful, young fundraising volunteer, 40 under 40 award winner and real estate broker at Koble Commercial Real Estate. We asked Graeme to talk about how his professional, family and volunteer roles fit together.
How did you get involved with the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation?
I knew that Alan Whitten, President of Huntington Properties was involved and I had heard all of the great things that he was doing with the hospital. Having lived in the west-end of Ottawa most my life, I was eager to learn more. I had been involved in other committees and boards, but there was no emotional connection. Almost everyone in my family has used QCH at some point. This includes my wife, who gave birth to our son at QCH. During and after delivery, we had some minor complications, but the team at the hospital treated my wife and son as if they were family. The care that we received was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I (we) wanted to give back in any way possible.
Why is the hospital important to the west end?
Our west-end suburbs are growing along with the surrounding townships and this is the place where all emergency patients come. From a broken finger to a heart attack, stroke and everything in between, this is the hospital of our community.
Your business is growing, you have a family, how do you have time to volunteer?
Meetings are occasional and I have opportunities to talk with clients about the hospital everyday. The foundation does most of the work!
What other volunteering do you do?
I volunteer as a member of the commercial services division for the Ottawa Real Estate Board
Asking for a donation is not easy, why do you it?
It’s not as difficult to ask if you support the hospital yourself. I think if we tell the story of our experience with the QCH it opens the door to discuss supporting the hospital. Every resident from the west-end has had an experience with the hospital and when they hear how much funding the community has to raise on their own, they tend to be receptive to the idea.
What was your first entry into fundraising for the hospital?
A client of mine noticed my passion for the hospital and we concluded the sale of her late-husband’s office building. A few weeks later I had received a donation for $50,000 toward the QCH and I was completely caught off-guard. I had never seen this kind of generosity before!
What is the best part of the fundraising process for you?
Seeing a potential donor get passionate about an important cause is thrilling!
Is there one thing that is consistent about the people you’ve worked with who are donors and/or volunteers for QCH?
Their passion for this community. They love the west-end and want the best possible care for our residents.
What is it about QCH that makes people want to give major donations?
Their experience or a family member’s health care experience. When you see a family member or a friend get treated at the hospital, you often leave wanting to do whatever you can to give back and make it a better experience for the next person.
What is one piece of advice you would have to newer fundraising volunteers?
Make sure that you are passionate about the hospital or the specific cause. When potential donors hear your story, they will want to get involved.
As a GenXer, you don’t fit the standard demographic profile of a major donor, what is it like working with other, more established volunteers?
It’s motivating to see that the kinds of donations that they bring in and that it can take many years to land a large donation. It’s also refreshing to see how passionate they are. The more established volunteers aren’t showing up because they have to or to socialize. They recognize that they have influence in this city and truly want to make a difference to a cause that is important to them.