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JD Shuman hedshot
Asbury Foundation President and CEO JD Shuman (Photo courtesy of Asbury)

JD Shuman is hoping other senior living providers can learn from the experience of not-for-profit Asbury Communities and the Asbury Foundation in using philanthropic programs to meet key goals and differentiate offerings from those of competitors.

“I think it’s going to impact the future of senior living incredibly,” said Shuman, the president and CEO of the Frederick, MD-based Asbury Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. “Those that aren’t leveraging philanthropy are going to miss out.”

Aligning donor passions to “transformational” opportunities is the goal of the foundation’s $60 million philanthropic campaign as the senior living provider approaches its centennial.

The public phase of the Everyday Exceptional effort kicked off last week, with the goal of securing philanthropic support to enhance the quality of life for the 4,300 residents and 2,800 employees living and working at 11 Asbury Communities continuing care retirement / life plan communities. The campaign already has raised 63% of its funding goal since the start of its quiet phase in September 2020.

Shuman said the campaign seeks to shape the next century of Asbury living through its key focus areas: benevolent care for residents who outlive their resources; capital projects, including a dog park, bistro and pubs and brain health efforts; innovation, including hearing enhancement tools and green solar car charging stations; employee education and scholarships; and campus programs.

He told McKnight’s Senior Living that part of Asbury’s strategic blueprint is making it a well-being destination. Through philanthropy, he said, the foundation works to make every day exceptional by partnering with donors to bring their passions to fruition.

“Our industry sometimes is a little lax when it comes to investing in development and philanthropy,” Shuman said. “We’re a good example of when you invest in a foundation or invest in development teams, really incredible things can happen that help you differentiate yourself in this industry.”

Asbury took a higher education-style approach to philanthropy, with 75% of its team devoted to solicitations and 25% devoted to operations, he said. 

“We don’t go outside our walls much to raise funds — it’s all about developing relationships with our residents, understanding what drives them, the passion within them,” Shuman said. “It’s our value proposition to align donor passion to transformational opportunities.”

One example Shuman shared highlighted the domino effect of one resident’s gift. The Asbury team learned of a new resident’s passion in the area of Parkinson’s disease and worked with her to establish the Rosborough Wellness & Brain Health Center of Excellence at Asbury Methodist Village in Maryland through a $3.5 million gift. Another resident at Asbury’s Bethany Village in Pennsylvania saw what that $3.5 million donation did and gave her own $3.5 million to develop a brain health center at her community. 

“That’s a great example of sitting down, getting to know a woman and what drives you, and $7 million later, we have generations of Asbury residents who will benefit from brain health programming,” Shuman said.