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How Children’s Miracle Network Leveraged Innovation to Engage 95% of Employees and Raise $350k

“With Brightidea, we can crowdsource the kind of bell curve ideas that drive the most impact.”

Kyton Sweat

Senior Innovation Program Manager


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The Challenge

For over 35 years, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals across the U.S. and Canada. To provide the best care for kids, children’s hospitals rely on donations and community support, as Medicaid and insurance programs do not fully cover the cost of care. Children’s Miracle Network’s various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Since 1983, the organization has raised more than $5 billion, most of it one dollar at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon. Currently, the network treats 62 children every minute. As such, innovation is essential to the organization’s fundraising efforts. After a major organizational shift in 2015, executives decided that Children’s Miracle Network needed a fresh approach after seeing a stagnation of fruitful ideas over the previous decade.

Enter Kyton Sweat, Senior Innovation Program Manager, ready to take on the challenge of
modernizing Children’s Miracle Network’s approach to innovation. Kyton grew up in Salt Lake City and started with the organization as a college intern five years ago. Now, he’s leading the innovation process. “I met with my new executive sponsor, our Chief Business Development Officer, and after selling him into the importance of Brightidea to our business he told me, ‘Ok, go make it work,’” says Kyton. “I really felt the pressure there, and being just a team of two at the time, we knew we needed a solution that would help us automate some of the work engaging our 160 employees,” he adds.

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The Solution

Kyton chose Brightidea as Children’s Miracle Network’s partner in innovation. Together with the Brightidea Customer Success team, Kyton and his colleague Megan Hillier-Geisler planned and coordinated a live hackathon event during the annual culture week celebration, where everyone present could participate. The event was a wild success! Over 150 of the organization’s 160 employees participated, resulting in three winning ideas. “One was a truly revolutionary Bitcoin/cryptocurrency idea that we launched on our site where people could donate spare computing cycles on our site and mine coin as a donation. We were able to build that for free,” says Kyton. Another was our new donation campaign that just launched and has raised over $350k in donations already” says Kyton.

“The hackathon also helped us sell the idea to executives that innovation is critical to our organization and is something that everyone can do.”

A Cultural Transformation

The Culture Week hackathon did more than just generate fresh fundraising ideas for Children’s Miracle Network. “The hackathon also helped us sell the idea to executives that innovation is critical to our organization and is something that everyone can do,” says Kyton.

The Brightidea Apps CMN Uses to Power their Innovation Program

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Problem Solving
Idea Challenges

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Improvement Finding
Idea Challenges

The Results

Kyton’s incredible drive and creativity, certainly set him up for success. But, being only a two person team, he needed help to engage the organization’s 160 employees. “Brightidea was so easy to set up, and it was so easy to train our people on how to use the platform. They [Brightidea] provided the playbooks and training necessary to help me and my team be successful. I didn’t necessarily have any innovation program management training in the past, yet I was still able to learn how to be an IPM and how to start by learning from [Brightidea] completely.” he says.

Advice from the Field

For those who want to start their own innovation programs, Kyton has some great advice:

Quick wins are essential! “At first, it was really hard. When I took over the platform, I had a lot to prove, and my new boss didn’t really understand why we needed innovation. I had to do a lot of selling to get him to understand,” he says.“But after the hackathon,” Kyton muses, “that completely changed. All the executives bought into innovation. We have even decided to build an innovation development team to run with the ideas that are selected for design and implementation. We just announced the team, and it has people from every department and is a very diverse team. Executives are very excited to see the results generated from implemented ideas,” he adds.

Focus on cheerleaders. “We have an 80-20 rule where we see about 20 percent of our contributors are extremely active, so we focus on them with corporate awards, recognition with their bosses, and we showcase their efforts to the whole company,” Kyton says. Don’t skimp on education and training. “It is critical to make sure your leadership knows how to best motivate employees. We do a lot of education and training with our internal teams to train them on innovation best practices,” adds Kyton.

Take the reins. Kyton notes, “As an IPM, this is your baby. These programs are something you can grow, lead, make it your own, and have a tremendous business impact with incredible visibility to your executives. This is a great move for your career growth.” Reap the rewards. Kyton states, “CMN Hospitals has done innovation challenges before, just not in an organized way that drove this level of success. I grew up in Salt Lake City, and I have been involved with Children’s Miracle Network my entire life. We are due for the next big bell curve idea, and we have some really cool ideas in the pipeline now. That’s what I love about my job, and that’s why I do it.”