CHESTBlogConnecting Passion to Impact

Connecting Passion to Impact

Connecting Passion to Impact

Get to know the new Director of Philanthropy & Advancement: Meggie Cramer

August 30, 2023

Meggie Cramer

Meggie Cramer, MBA

Meggie Cramer

Meggie Cramer, MBA

CHEST philanthropy is undergoing major change, and a critical element of the new strategy is onboarding the new Director of Philanthropy & Advancement, Meggie Cramer, MBA. We sat down with Meggie to learn about her background, her strategy, and her connection to philanthropy.

Why philanthropy, and why this space?

I started my career in health care philanthropy, which really kind of solidified how much I enjoy the health care environment. I always relished the chance to get to work with physicians and with all of the other health care professionals to see how they make a difference. It's refreshing to be surrounded by individuals fueled by ambition and altruism.

What I love most is that the impact of philanthropy in health care is so clear. I can clearly see the humanistic aspect of the work, which is inspiring.

I also love that, in health care, it's extremely rare for me to be responsible for fundraising for the operating budget of an organization. Rather, philanthropy gets to be an additional revenue stream.

To you, what should philanthropy accomplish?

I'm a really firm believer that philanthropy should be budget extending, not budget relieving, because, at the end of the day, it is the organization's responsibility to cover the essential costs of the operation. When giving—especially to a hospital—donors don't want to fund things like linear accelerators. When a linear accelerator is a necessary piece of equipment in order to have an oncology program, and you can't have one without the other, it’s the responsibility of the system.

When philanthropy is budget extending, I get to sit down and work with physicians and leaders, and even in some instances, patients, to say, what do you see that doesn't exist right now, and how can you be a part of creating it?

What do you see that doesn't exist right now, and how can you be a part of creating it?

I love working in philanthropy because I say I do sales for good, and I get the opportunity to connect people who care about what we do and create stakeholders in our mission. Whatever the outcome of the donation, philanthropy is a strong reflection that the stakeholders are vested in the success of the mission, and it provides an opportunity for them to be as close to it as possible.

When it comes to giving, what is a primary focus for you?

Before anything else, I try to make the value of the investment as clear as possible to the person giving the gift. When someone gives to an organization, they want to know how that money is being used and, naturally, they want to see the impact it has or to see a return on the future that they’re investing in.


The first time I connected with Bob [Musacchio], it was clear to me that my ethos aligned with that of CHEST. He didn't see philanthropy as just an opportunity to kind of bolster the efforts of the organization but, instead, saw it as an opportunity to pair the excitement and the passions of the members with opportunities for real impact across the ecosystem of chest medicine. He stressed that this role would be both an opportunity to raise the funds and to be a part of how we use them.

I'm positive there are [members] with thoughts on things they’d like to change. Philanthropy is precisely that tool for them to see those ideas come to fruition in reality.

The more I talked to Bob and the more I understood the member base, particularly in light of what has happened over the last 3 years, it felt like an organization poised to have a strong impact in the near future. At the end of the day, CHEST has 21,000 members who are, in some way or another, experiencing the lasting impacts of COVID-19, and I'm positive there are some with thoughts on things they’d like to change. Philanthropy is precisely that tool for them to see those ideas come to fruition in reality.

What are some of your immediate goals?

CHEST philanthropy has such a deep history with 25 years of impact; to walk into an organization that is in the midst of such a big transition and see so many good things that have already been established was really encouraging. There are so many important relationships that have been maintained and clear, very visible examples of the impact the work has done, and it is an incredibly exciting organization to step into. I’m excited to build upon this rich history, and everyone I’ve connected with is excited to keep that momentum going. I joke that really the biggest challenge I'm facing is prioritizing all the incredible opportunities that are here.

The initial focus will be on what we can do in the short term to have some wins and then shift that focus into what we need to do to set ourselves up for success in the long term. A lot of that strategy will come from engaging the CHEST faculty and from connecting with CHEST members who are not yet involved in philanthropy—what would they like to see, what matters most to them?

Any closing thoughts to share?

When all is said, I want the entire membership to both understand what philanthropy can do and, on top of that, understand where they come in. Whether a gift is a hundred dollars when you renew your membership or a hundred thousand dollars because you really want to see longitudinal clinical research grants go out into the community, I want CHEST philanthropy to be a big tent, and I want everybody to feel like they have value and to know exactly what their money is doing and why it's needed.

I want the entire membership to both understand what philanthropy can do and, on top of that, understand where they come in.

I know, particularly in medicine, every physician who's within our membership is getting bombarded with requests to give, whether it's from the hospital they're a part of or from somewhere else. I joke all the time about it, but, sincerely, I never want anyone to roll their eyes when they get an email or a letter or something from CHEST philanthropy. I want them to look forward to what they're learning and understand how they can help be part of advancing our mission.

Our goals for CHEST philanthropy connect all of the dots that are important to our members: that philanthropy can advance advocacy; that philanthropy can advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; and that philanthropy can advance continuing medical education. It can advance diversity in our field, and it's creating that community.

With this being my introduction to all of CHEST, right off the bat, what I want say to everyone is, “thank you.” Thank you for your involvement with the organization—whether you’ve engaged in philanthropy or not—and thank you for your work within health care. I'm really excited to work with you and make those who are already involved feel that much more excited and to bring new people into the fold so they see the value.

I look very much forward to connecting.

CHEST philanthropy encompasses our unified mission to shape a better future for chest medicine and improve the lives of our patients.

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