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Meredith Smith, Joe Vasta

JOR 340
November 19, 2014
Professor Hollie Smith
Rhode Island, although small and sometimes forgotten, has several hidden treasures to it.
Some people come to Rhode Island for summer vacations or for its world renowned schools
while others come for business opportunities. There is also a hidden treasure in Rhode Island that
is so special that families from all over the world come to visit it. The hidden treasure is The
Tomorrow Fund.
The Tomorrow Fund is located in the heart of Providence Rhode Island at Hasbro
Children's Hospital. Its clinical doors opened in 1995 and was founded by a group of doctors,
child life specialists as well as parents of children with cancer. This group of people recognized
that in addition to the very best medical care, children with cancer and their families need
financial and emotional assistance to cope with the overwhelming challenges of this insidious
disease (
So what is The Tomorrow Fund? It is exactly what the founders recognized as a need-- it
is a childrens cancer clinic with a mission statement of; To provide financial and emotional
support to children with cancer and their families who are treated in The Tomorrow Fund Clinic
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center at Hasbro Childrens Hospital(
The Tomorrow Fund is a non-profit charity that relies mainly on fundraising and
contributions from the community. It accomplishes this goal by organizing fundraisers, events as
well as working with the community to inform people about the effects of childhood cancer.
The Tomorrow Fund only has five people that are one their payroll. The main three
being; The President Lisa Abbenante, Vice President Robert Markarian and Treasurer Jamie
Messier. The Tomorrow Fund has a strong board of directors that include the Executive Director
Barbara Ducharme and Development Direction Kathleen Connolly. A majority of the Tomorrow
Funds directors are volunteers, or are paid by the LifeSpan of Rhode Island company that owns
and runs the hospitals. Kathleen Connolly, the director of development, was the person we chose
to interview for this project. We chose to interview her because of her job title and wanted to
know more about her role in the foundation as well as discover any challenges she is faced with
working for The Tomorrow Fund.
Kathleen Connolly joined The Tomorrow Fund team five years ago. She previously
worked for Rhode Island Blood-Center, another local non-profit organization for thirty years
prior to joining The Tomorrow Fund. When asked the question, What drove you to your
career?--And what made you decide to work for non-profit organizations?, Kathleen revealed
that she has always wanted to be part of an organization that helps others. Her starting trade was
a medical-technician. She then worked for the Rhode Island Blood-Center from the day they
opened their doors in 1979 to 2009. When discussing The Tomorrow Fund, Kathleen stated that
...working for a non-profit especially something like this, you get to give back. You get close to

the families and see how much you impact their lives. Kathleens role in The Tomorrow Fund is
[as stated earlier] the development director. When asked to describe what her job entitles, she
stressed highly her involvement in Public Relations. I am involved heavily in public relations
and the presence out in the public so people understand who we are and what we do she said.
How she does herself is through Chamber of Congress events, and fundraisers to raise awareness
for the organization. Kathleen then expressed to us that although it is her job to bring attention
and awareness, it is not as easy as it seems. She informed us that a drawback to The Tomorrow
Fund is,...not that too many people know who we are. But my answer to that is, than youre
lucky. That means your children, family or any children you know has not had cancer, and thats
a good thing. Another drawback she informed us of was the limitations of resources the
organization has to raise awareness and bring attention to the fund. The Tomorrow Fund is given
one million dollars as a budget. Kathleen shared that this money is used to pay the five people
that are on their payroll. Kathleen stated that, What you see is what we have for staff...three
full-timers and two part-timers...we rely on volunteers to help us. As a follow up question to
this, we asked, does that budget make it difficult to organize events and raise awareness?. To
no surprise she responded with of course it makes it difficult. You know, a big part of
development directing is a lot of fundraiser events, we only do three. Why dont we do more?
Where are we going to have it and who is going to pay for it? Kathleen expressed. She then
informed us that The Tomorrow Fund relies on the forty-three corporate companies that sponsor
the organization to supply the funds to raise the annual goal of two-hundred-fifty-thousand
dollars. In an enthusiastic tone and a smile on her face, Kathleen stated, We are doing relatively
well for a non-profit organization this small in an economy like this. We raise our goal of twohundred-fifty-thousand dollars every year!.
The interview with Kathleen lasted over thirty minutes and the information she shared
gave us a peek into the door of what working for a non-profit organization is like. The most
insightful information she gave was the importance of building personal relationships. As public
relations majors, the most important part of job will be the ability to build and maintain
relationships with the public. Kathleen shared that working for a non-profit the ability to get
things done without the resources for-profit organizations have is solely based on the
relationships built with people in the community. We have to follow Lifespans rules and they
are very strict and limit to what The Tomorrow Fund is allowed to do. How we manage that is
through building relationships with individuals in each department of Lifespan so we can ask for
favors. I am sure Lifespan knows about this, but its relationships. The most important
information Kathleen shared that can prepare us for a career in non-profit was this, you got to
form relationships, not all emails or phone calls, forming actual relationships because you do not
have money to do everything you want to do.
The most surprising thing that Kathleen shared about working for a non-profit was how
little one can actually do to raise awareness. As a public relations person, bringing attention and
awareness is what we strive for. For a non-profit organization like The Tomorrow Fund, there is
only so much a development director in the public relation field can do. Kathleen expressed that

no matter how many fundraisers, campaigns or advertisements the organization does, it is word
of mouth that truly raises awareness. People find out about The Tomorrow Fund from word of
mouth from families who are being treated at the hospital and who are involved in The
Tomorrow Fund Kathleen stated. This makes one wonder if you can work for a non-profit
organization because you are limited to how much you can do. Learning how to do what you can
but also being able to stand back and allow families and the community to bring awareness to the
organization is something that must be learned as a public relation professional in order to
succeed in a non-profit organization.
The Tomorrow Fund, being a non-profit organization, does what it can to have a presence
online for everyone to see. As of right now there are few ways you can find them aside from
their website. They do not have a lot of money to advertise online because of the strict rules and
budget Lifespan has put on them. We feel that they should increase online presence to make it
stronger. We understand this is easier said than done for them because their budget is very tight
every year and limits them to numerous things. That being said, Lifespan should consider losing
the reigns on the strict rules. They need to have more freedom within Lifespan or else their
online presence will suffer in the long-term.
One facet that the organization has tried to embrace is social media. Just as other nonprofits have done, The Tomorrow Fund tries to make themselves noticed on social media outlets
such as Facebook and Twitter to help raise awareness for their cause. On their Twitter account
we saw that they post regularly and they are usually tweets theyve posted themselves. However,
they lack favorites, retweets and mentions from their followers. With 316 followers they should
be able to get more than one retweet or two favorites for every five tweets posted. The tweets
they put out are very short, and sweet mainly regarding fundraisers and links to help other
organizations. It seems that they need to change up what they are tweeting about so they can
catch peoples attention more.
Regarding Facebook, the company has a very fine line on what they want to be posted to
the account. I think we get a lot of posts because we dont abuse it, says Kathleen. They
believe that if they post every day, multiple times a day and put too much in a post, that people
will start to skip over it. They only post specific things approved by specific people on their
Facebook. The doctors who treat the sick children dont want parents posting on the companys
page about treatments or procedures for everyone to see. Knowing this is the case Kathleen
states, it does pretty good from the attention it is getting. They post relatively regularly on their
account and get a decent amount of hits on each post. Majority of what they put out to the public
is fundraiser reminders and pictures of the staff. For being a small non-profit we think they get a
sufficient number of likes and shares for the things they post.
The problem that they face when it comes to social media is that they are not in control of
it. As stated earlier, Lifespan has very strict rules set in place for them. The Tomorrow Funds
Facebook and Twitter accounts go through Lifespans server and they do not have access to it.
There are about six people total that are allowed to get into these accounts. If they want to get

anything posted they have to go through their own personal phones which takes a lot longer.
Their answer to this is asking someone outside the organization to post something on the
facebook, which can take up to two days to be posted. This makes it very difficult to get their
messages out on time and it is a rule that the organization is trying to get lifted. They have now
reached over 2,719 viewers on Facebook, which is great for a small organization like theirs and a
reason they need to have this rule lifted.
Though the economy we live in today isnt the best, The Tomorrow Fund still does very
well for itself when it comes to getting the money it needs. Right now they have forty-three
corporate companies that sponsor them and donate money regularly. Its not a surprise that the
way these companies adapt to the poor economy is by donating less money. Taking this into
consideration the companies still donate every year and are faithful to the organization and the
cause. Every year the organization strives to get $250,000 in donations and they have hit their
mark every year due to their faithful contributors.
The main problem they face is the restrictions Lifespan puts on them. They have these
rules set in place that are very strict and keep the company limited to what it can do. The way
they manage this is by building relationships in different departments throughout Lifespan.
Building these relationships (friendships) with different people throughout Lifespan helps the
organization be able to ask for some favors. An example would be with the printing
department. If The Tomorrow Fund needs flyers printed and they do not want to pay, they ask
ask a person in the printing department that have made a relationship with to print for them as a
favor. Does Lifespan know this is going on? They probably do, but it is something that is just
looked over. The relationship they have made makes it possible for them to look past these
Kathleen did offer a bit of advice to the both of us during our interview. She encourages
us to start volunteering for different organizations and join different groups to starts making
connections. To get a job you have to know someone now-a-days, she told us. She advised us
to get on LinkedIn and start making ourselves friendly with companies that are involved in nonprofit organizations. She informed us that a lot of major companies will hire someone who has
volunteering experience with organizations they support. This advice, as well as the information
Kathleen gave us throughout the interview made us have a stronger respect and appreciation for
non-profit organizations. We have a greater understanding of what public relations within nonprofit organizations entitles and we have grown a respect for the people that work for such
organizations. We both agree that we would work for a non-profit organization because we both
like that by working for one, you are giving back. We both agree that it would be hard to work
for a non-profit because you are limited to how much you can do, and must work with as little
resources as possible to get a job done. Overall, we gained a greater knowledge of what nonprofit public relations looks like which will help us in the process of deciding where we want to
work post graduation.

Interview Questions:
1. Can you please explain what your title of Development Director for the Tomorrow
Fund is?
2. What drove you to this career? What made you decide to work for a non-profit
3. What is your favorite part about your job? Are there any drawbacks? What is
difficult about your job?
4. Because The Tomorrow Fund has such a large support system here in Rhode Island, does
it make planning events easier or more difficult due to the expectations?
5. One a scale of 1-10, how effective do you think The Tomorrow Fund social media
accounts are to the organization?
6. What is more effective for raising awareness? Campaigns or fundraisers?
7. What is some advice you could give to a student studying PR who wants to work in a
non-profit organization?

Kathleen Connolly- Development Director at The Tomorrow Fund 401-868-9001