Rethink Your Fundraising by Engaging Grateful Citizens, Not Just Grateful Patients

Every week, if not every day, my inbox receives a blog post or forum discussion about creating, leading, organizing and managing a grateful patient program at an academic medical center, specialty, or community hospital. Invariably, the article details the need to subscribe to HIPAA regulations and track the data generated, including referral source, capacity, propensity to give in relation to the stay, and whether to solicit in person, through the mail, or over the phone. Between all of this and the need to organize teams of practitioners, ensure compliance, identify the case for asking and make the program function, it’s a lot of work.

It’s also, for many institutions, misguided.

Think about it: who hasn’t needed your hospital? Whether it’s the birth of a new baby, a stitch or staple or a broken bone, or something more serious, everyone eventually uses the hospital. Hospitals are recognized anchor institutions, are critical to the fabric of the community, and effective delivery of healthcare is one way we measure ourselves.

Why wait until people use the hospital to ask for support? Why not spend as much time on prospective donors who will use the hospital?

At Averill, we promote a Grateful Citizens approach. Everyone is a prospect, not just past patients. It’s an easier and more effective approach. Easier to manage, with less need to attend to regulations and compliance.

Here’s how it works:

  • At your next development committee or annual fund committee meeting, share with your members your intention to seek support from across the community, from its grateful citizens.
  • Aggregate lists of leaders and donors. Use the chamber of commerce, past donor lists, information from local property tax rolls (all are public and available!), local business development groups, and others.
  • Conduct “list review” sessions, one on one, with your committee members and include all new intelligence in your prospect worksheet.
  • Share the lists and the intelligence gathered at your next committee meeting.
  • (It’s critical that the visits occur before the information is shared at the committee meeting. If it’s done in reverse, the silence will be defeating. By conducting the list reviews one on one, you’re able to say at the meeting “Mary, I recall you know the Smith’s. I trust you’ll take on that assignment…”)
  • Make assignments, for tours, attendance at events, roundtables and other hospital events. And for visits to ask for support.
  • Make sure the CEO is involved. People who are successful, and accordingly good prospects, will respond to a call from you indicating “Our CEO is inviting leaders to meet with him/her and discuss what’s happening at our hospital and what our plans are for the future…”
  • Hold people accountable: make Grateful Citizens reporting a part of your regular development committee or annual fund committee meeting.

The Grateful Citizens approach can work at your hospital. People in your community are grateful for your presence and will support you.

For more information, contact Sarah Andrews, Assistant Vice President at Averill Fundraising Solutions, 888-321-1810 ext. 104.

 Robert C. Happy, Jr., President, Averill Fundraising Solutions

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