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Children’s hospital turns to gift catalog for donations

A screen shot of one of the fundraising

A screen shot of one of the fundraising goals featured on the Give Miracles online gift catalogue for the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

The Cohen Children’s Medical Center is hoping to make it onto Long Islanders’ online holiday shopping lists this year.

The New Hyde Park, Queens, children’s facility is the only local hospital featured on the first-of-its-kind online crowd-funded gift catalog,

The site is the brainchild of the national nonprofit Children’s Miracle Network and it features a wish list from each of its 170 children’s hospitals around the country.

Powered by the crowd-funding site Fundly, the site offers donors the options of contributing as much money as they want toward a gift for the hospital of their choice.

Kevin Carraccio, vice president of development for Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said the hospital has been a member of the Children’s Miracle Network for years and always participated in its annual retail fundraising campaign, in which every spring, retailers like Walmart and Costco sell $1 paper balloons at the register to benefit the network.

Last year, that campaign raised more than $1.2 million for the hospital, but they wanted to increase both the amount of funding coming in and the exposure, Carraccio said.

He said it’s a chance for the community to become familiar with the hospital’s specific needs, and match that to their interests.

“This campaign will increase exposure to the elevated need of the hospitals during the holidays and all year round,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic.”

On the site, the hospital has registered for a wide variety of gifts, including everything from diapers for premature babies to a $45,000 incubator. Donors can fund an entire gift or contribute any amount toward a goal, plus they can also sign on to sponsor one of the goals themselves, which means that individual would take the reins on fundraising for a specific item.

“Pick the hospital you want, the services you want the money to go to,” Carraccio said. “It can’t get easier than that. It’s convenient.”

Craig Sorensen, chief concept officer at Children’s Miracle Network, said last year the network raised more than $250 million for its hospitals, but set a goal to increase that to $1 billion a year by 2022. The network put together an “innovation team” which found that donors had a desire to be more connected to the causes where their money was going.

“There’s a lot of interest in the donors in knowing where their funds go and how their funds impact the local children’s hospital,” he said. “That turned into the Give Miracles catalog, which actually shows how you might specifically help your local children’s hospital.”

He said the site, which launched on Oct. 27, has garnered a lot of interest so far, though the network is considering this their pilot year to see how well it works and what can be improved.

Dave Boyce, CEO of Fundly, said the network’s catalog is a brand new model and a brand new way to use his site. He said it was based on the idea of a gift catalog from department stores like Neiman Marcus or London’s Harrod’s, which include million-dollar items “only an Arabian prince would buy.”

“So they said, ‘Let’s include an hospital wing, that’s $12 million,” he said. “I’ve studied innovation my whole career, when I heard their whole design I was really impressed. It was very thoughtful.”

So far, the campaign has raised $2,245 toward various goals for the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, according to the site. Altogether, the hospital has registered for nearly $500,000 worth of gifts, which also includes future funding for the innovation team that created the campaign.

Carraccio said the campaign really emphasizes the breadth of services that makes a children’s hospital thrive. He said it’s the hospital costs not covered by insurance — things like art supplies, or a gaming system like an Xbox — that might surprise people, but those are the things that make a children’s hospital a children’s hospital.

“The hospital has to be ready for anything at any minute of every day,” he said. “We can’t do that without the public’s help.”

Pictured above: Cohen Children's Medical Center is featured in an online crowd-funded gift catalog, a fundraiser for children’s hospitals.

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