RMHC Detroit – Crain’s Best Managed Nonprofit


  • Ronald McDonald House of Detroit diversifies funding base to help fund new home, new programs
  • The campaign created reserves the charity is using to launch new programs
  • Among the programs will be a free, mobile health clinic in Detroit

In the fall of 2013, Ronald McDonald House of Detroit learned it would have to move from the Midtown Detroit site DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan had conditionally leased to it to make room for the hospital’s new patient tower.

The Detroit Medical Center’s parent company, Tenet Healthcare Corp., contributed the bulk of the $4.3 million cost to move the charity a mile north to the Hutzel Professional Building.

But it left Ronald McDonald House — which operated on a budget of just over $1 million in 2014 — to raise $850,000 for the move and additional funds to serve as an operating cushion while it settled into its new home and made needed changes to ensure the parents of children undergoing treatment at the hospital could find the house and use its services.

The charity launched a $3 million campaign late that year, an ambitious effort given its longtime challenge of securing foundation grants given the specialized population it serves and the lack of specific programs needing funding, Executive Director Jen Litomisky said.

By diversifying its revenue and fundraising approaches, it exceeded its goal, raising nearly $3.2 million in three years. It paid its part of the capital costs to create the new house and designated $500,000 for operations. The remaining $1.8 million is creating a reserve as multi-year pledges are paid.

Those reserves, plus an additional $1 million the charity hopes to raise in phase two of its campaign next year, are enabling the charity to launch new programs, including a free, mobile health care clinic that it’s developing with Wayne State University and Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation for a planned launch in 2019.

Ronald McDonald House began focusing on online fundraising and email campaigns and did a new telethon with WDIV-Channel 4 to attract donors. It also submitted grant proposals to new foundations and corporations, broadening its circle of funders.

Prior to the campaign, Ronald McDonald House relied heavily on individual donations made through events, Litomisky said. Less than 5 percent of its revenue came from businesses and grants were only 6 percent of its total revenue. Today, only half of its $1 million annual budget comes from individuals. Corporate donors make up a third of total revenue, and grants have risen to about 15 percent of its total budget. And it’s working to cultivate bigger, longer-term donors, Litomisky said, with a foray into planned giving.

The increased revenue enabled the charity two years ago to begin providing a van shuttle service to transport the families of children undergoing treatment at the hospital back and forth to the house.

It’s working with Children’s Hospital of Michigan to open a family room for parents to rest. As part of that, Ronald McDonald House has built a “Happy Wheels Cart” to take food, drinks, toys and other essentials to children undergoing treatment at the hospital, their parents and the doctors and nurses.

The Care Mobile has been on the radar for the Detroit chapter for nearly 20 years, Litomisky said, noting it’s a service affiliates around the country offer, as is the family room, which is scheduled to open during the first quarter of next year.

“We’ve never had a partner for the Care Mobile … now, finally, the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation are stepping up to be part of that,” Litomisky said.

The WSU Physician Group will provide the health care for the new mobile health clinic, and the foundation will join Ronald McDonald House in funding its annual operating costs, she said.

Stay in Touch

See how your support makes a difference in the lives of families when they need it the most. Subscribe to our newsletter today.

Copyright All Rights Reserved