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BC Children's Hospital Foundation CEO, Sue Carruthers, hopes 2010 will be another lucrative year.

Sue Carruthers: President and CEO, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

There’s a lot to love in Sue Carruthers’s line of work. For starters, the president and CEO of the foundation that tops the list of B.C. charities this year considers her job to be the best in the province, mostly because she’s surrounded day in and out by people at their absolute best: the donors, volunteers and health-care professionals working to improve the quality and standard of care for sick kids throughout the province. 


“I don’t cross paths with the people in society who are egregious,” she says cheerfully over coffee in the foundation’s Oak Street office in Vancouver. 


Tasked with scrounging donations throughout cash-strapped 2009, Carruthers insists she discovered even more to adore. “This is the year I learned to love the $10 donor,” says the veteran fundraiser and former news reporter. 


Personal donations over $10,000 took a 20 per cent dip in 2009, when the board held off on soliciting larger gifts. But the $2, $5 and $10 donors stood by the foundation, as did lottery ticket buyers and telethon contributors. Those small gifts added up to a significant gain for the foundation, which received more than $34 million in tax-receipted gifts in 2009.


Carruthers says the generosity displayed by individuals and corporations despite the lean times exemplifies the “provincial phenomenon” of support the foundation enjoys. “Children’s Hospital has touched so many lives around the province because all the sickest kids come here, no matter where they live,” she says. 


With BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children located in Vancouver, the city is the provincial hub for pediatric care. However, the foundation works to reach every corner of the province, with funds going toward medical equipment and facilities upgrades as well as education, research and fellowship programs. 


The foundation also operates Child Health BC, a multi-agency partnership between health authorities, government and other provincial agencies aimed at ensuring the same standard of pediatric care is available provincewide.


With a slight resurgence of more sizable donations so far in 2010, Carruthers is hopeful this will be a more lucrative year for the foundation – just in time for the campaign for a new Children’s Hospital to kick into high gear. More than $100 million has already been raised for the project, and the foundation hopes to double that amount by 2012, $50 million of which is earmarked to go back into smaller communities through Child Health BC.


“It’s right for us to put money back into the community, because we take money out of the community,” she says. 


And even though a return to economic prosperity isn’t a guarantee, Carruthers is determined not to let the unknowns get her down. If there’s one thing she’s learned working for sick kids it’s the importance of keeping things in perspective. 


“We can’t have a bad day doing the work that we do because we walk to the cafeteria and we see kids and families who are struggling with the issues of life. No matter what kind of anxiety you have around – whether or not you’ve got a report ready on time, or what have you – it can’t compare with what you see.”