Saint John’s Hospice

Saint John’s Hospice (SJH) is a Catholic Social Services shelter for men located in Center City Philadelphia. Established in 1963, Saint John’s was created as an outreach ministry to serve and assist those in need in the local community. Its services now include a nightly emergency shelter, residential programs, case management and counseling, showers, clean clothing and daily meals. Saint John’s provides these crucial, life-sustaining services with dignity, respect and compassion.


Current Situation

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, Saint John’s Hospice is experiencing an increased need for their services. Daily lunch recipients have increased by 50 percent and the number of men seeking dinner has doubled.

Shifting Gears

After completing an assessment of the Development function at Saint John’s Hospice prior to the COVID-19 crisis, S&W and the Hospice quickly shifted gears to respond to the growing needs of its clients.

Digital Solution

S&W worked with Saint John’s Hospice to develop a rapid response digital fundraising campaign that raised more than $52,000 within one week to support critical life-saving services for its clients and community.

The Challenge

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak and the closing of another local shelter, the Hospice is experiencing an increased need for their services. Daily lunch recipients have increased by 50 percent and the number of men seeking dinner (which is offered 3 days a week) has doubled.

To ensure the safety of clients and staff, SJH has implemented social distancing and hygienic procedures which have a direct impact on how they provide their life-sustaining services, stretch staff capacity and increase program costs:


  • Public meals are served via carry-out packages at the front door.
  • Overnight emergency shelter is reduced to 20 men to ensure safe distance between each man.
  • Shower availability has been extended to ensure safe distancing between staff and guests.
  • Medically fragile residents in the residential program are served their meals prior to other residents.
  • Health screening for day-services guests before shower service and distribution of meals is mandatory.
  • Health screening for all residents is mandatory every morning and evening.
  • Saint John’s residents and day-services guests are sent to an off-site quarantine location if they are waiting for test results, have tested positive, or have been told by a doctor to quarantine.

The Solution

Saint John’s Hospice engaged Schultz & Williams (S&W) in January 2020 to assess their current Development function and create a strategic and tactical fundraising plan. In March 2020, when the State of Pennsylvania closed non-essential businesses and issued the stay-at-home order in the city of Philadelphia, S&W had completed the assessment and was preparing to share the results with SJH leadership and staff. By mutual agreement, the presentation of the assessment was placed on temporary hold while the Hospice shifted its resources to rapidly respond to the growing and unprecedented needs of its clients.

In light of the Hospice’s situation, S&W team members Garth Allen and Catherine Mullen pivoted their work to address frontline donor engagement and fundraising tactics. S&W developed an immediately actionable strategy which included:

  • Stewarding existing donors and providing information on the Hospice’s COVID-19 response.
  • Updating the website to include a banner directing viewers to the donation page.
  • Creating a rapid response matching gift digital campaign.

The Hospice faced several challenges to implementing this strategy.

  • The existing email list was relatively small (1,200 active emails).
  • Donors were not accustomed to digital solicitations.
  • The SJH development team was inexperienced in digital rapid response methods.
  • A donor to provide the match was not readily available.

The S&W team worked with SJH to develop the digital campaign strategy, write copy and engage the Council in productive conversation. As a result, the members of the Council collectively committed $15,000 as a matching gift challenge for the digital campaign. The campaign launched on Friday, March 27 and by Monday morning the matching gift goal of $15,000 had been exceeded.

The remainder of the campaign’s messaging shifted to inviting non-donors to stand in solidarity with the Hospice and thanking donors for their participation. The campaign concluded on Thursday, April 2 with gifts totaling $52,000 (including the $15,000 match).

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