A Q&A with Curtis Gritters, vice president of development at Holland Home
Curtis Gritters moved from one health care setting to another in April when he became vice president of development at Grand Rapids senior living and care provider Holland Home. A registered nurse who also holds an executive MBA from Grand Valley State University, Gritters worked for 19 years at Spectrum Health, most recently as director of provider contracting and analytics at insurance affiliate Priority Health. Gritters recently discussed his new role, where he is responsible for fundraising to support services and capital projects at the nonprofit Holland Home and its Faith Hospice.
What lured you to the world of philanthropy?
I’m a nurse by trade and have a heart for patients. I have had a number of opportunities to serve seniors and just to be present with them in some of their vulnerable moments. That’s always been an interest of mine. Also, Faith Hospice did a superb job caring for my grandfather when he passed a year and a half ago, so I’ve been interested in connecting with this organization. I worked with them in my role at Priority Health as well, and I always had an admiration for their mission and heart for seniors. So when there was an opportunity to connect my experiences on the business side, but also on the clinical side in serving seniors with the mission of Holland Home and Faith Hospice, there was a lot of appeal there. It seemed like a natural fit.
How does your background as an RN fit with your new role?
My background as an RN gives me an appreciation for what happens at the bedside every day, and with an appreciation for where our mission meets the road and where the work that we do really makes a difference. It’s those stories, it’s those moments, that really reflect our community or our identity as Holland Home or Faith Hospice. So when we’re able to take those stories and those moments to our community, folks who hear about that find it quite compelling. It’s a unique opportunity to share with others who may not see behind those scenes the really powerful moments that happen.
What’s been the biggest adjustment since you started in April?
I didn’t think I would appreciate putting in the miles. I had worked from home for the last two years and that was quite a set up. To be able to get back into the office or to be grabbing lunch with people and just having in-person relationships has been quite a blessing. I am thrilled to be back in that kind of setting, and it’s one where you are really face to face and hand to hand with folks. You can really learn from them, not just the content of what they’re sharing, but the heart behind it.
As the population ages and the Baby Boomer generation retires, does that heighten the role of philanthropy and identifying those future benefactors for Holland Home?
It does. The generational changes certainly are affecting our business, the economics of it and how the federal and state governments are reimbursing on the revenue side. Expenses are not going down, either. Staffing can be a challenge, and the cost of goods and supply chains are increasing and challenging as well. The need for philanthropy to support the promise of care that we provide our residents is increasingly there. Our community has shown itself to be generous for the 130 years of our existence. Even though different people have different philosophies on giving, we continue to find our community to be generous.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face today as you go about your work?
Probably telling the community about our mission and promise of care. Holland Home is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, but despite being that pillar in our community for so many decades, relatively few people really know about us. Our challenge is to share with the broader West Michigan community our identity, our mission (and) our promise of care. I find when folks hear about that, that mission and that promise of care really resonate with a number of folks.
Given the current economic disruptions, how does a nonprofit organization need to adjust its approach to prospective benefactors?
You perhaps fear that COVID and economic uncertainty would really undercut philanthropy, but perhaps paradoxically, we saw it maintain and even increase. I think the explanation for that is: Charity is often an act of worship or generosity. That’s not necessarily affected by ‘what’s in it for me?’ It’s about an interest in what that gift can be used for and going to a good cause. As a community hears that that need increases, often the interest in giving increases. Our team has been finding that charitable giving is less tied to the economy and more tied to mission and the needs that they hear about, and our community has responded abundantly and generously. It’s been quite something to see and experience.
— Interview conducted and condensed by Mark Sanchez. Courtesy photo