President's Message

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President’s Message: ATS Welcomes Fundraising for the Research Program into the Fold

Since its establishment in 2004, the ATS Foundation has awarded over $19 million in research grants to over 260 deserving investigators in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.  We should all be proud of the research aprogram’s achievements, as these investigators have gone on to receive over $330 million in federal funding.

At the December Board of Directors Meeting, the Board voted unanimously to fold ATS Foundation fundraising operations into the ATS. This action was taken following several months of in-depth assessment of existing operations and exploration of how we might improve efficiency while also boosting fundraising to support the Research Program.  The Board approved a change in the ATS Foundation governance structure, converting it to an ATS committee. 

When it was originally established in 2004 it was anticipated that the Foundation would eventually be self-sustaining. However, despite the strong leadership of the Board of Trustees and efforts of the staff, ATS has continued to underwrite 100 percent of Foundation operations through 2019, in addition to contributing to the research fund annually.  Furthermore, supporting the Foundation required significant duplication of ATS operations, for example, maintaining two sets of books for accounting purposes, conducting two financial audits every year, hosting separate websites, and added legal fees. In addition, there was frequent confusion among our donors as to the differences between the Society and ATS Foundation, with many making contributions to the former when they were intended for the latter.

Given that, we asked whether there was a more efficient, impactful way to raise funds to support the ATS Research Program, which continues to be a key Society priority.  After careful consideration and consultation between the ATS Executive Committee and ATS Foundation Board of Trustees, we decided that folding the Foundation into the ATS would be most beneficial for all concerned, including donors and, most especially, the Research Program and the early career investigators it supports. We are very gratified that the Board voted unanimously to support this decision.

What will this transformation look like? Here are the highlights:

  • The Foundation will be replaced by a Development Committee (tentative name) which will operate within the existing ATS committee structure.
  • The committee will be comprised of former members of the Foundation Board of Trustees who wish to continue to serve in a research program fundraising capacity. Dean Schraufnagel, MD, ATSF will continue as chair of the committee.
  • There will continue to be a strong firewall between the Development Committee, which raises funds, and the Scientific Advisory Committee, which evaluates and awards grants. No ATS member can sit on both committees and different staff support each committee.
  • 100 percent of funds raised to date by the Foundation as well as those raised in the future will support research, as the donors intended.
  • Existing fundraising programs, such as the Funds for the Future Campaign and the Benefit at the International Conference, will continue as before.

It’s important to emphasize that ATS support for research remains unchanged.  At the same time, I am optimistic that this transformation, in addition to saving money, will streamline operations and allow us to amplify our fundraising ability, by tapping more fully into existing ATS staff and resources.

Finally, on behalf of the Executive Committee I would like to thank Dr. Schraufnagel, chair of the ATS Board of Trustees, and Linda Nici, MD, the vice chair, for their leadership on this issue and the entire Board of Trustees for their support.

I’m very proud of the Society for taking such a bold step to improve operational outcomes, and for finding a way to better utilize existing staff and resources. It’s very exciting to watch the Society meet new challenges, and particularly rewarding to know that these changes are contributing to a solid base from which the Society will continue to support research for years to come.