Successful Fundraising is a Team Sport: Physicians' Role in Fundraising

physicians_fundraising_givingAs healthcare philanthropy continues to evolve, the methods organizations use to identify and communicate with prospective donors also change. Our recent Grateful Patient Study  found that one of the most effective methods for transforming your patients into donors is through the effective training and management of physicians in fundraising.

Successful fundraising is a team sport; in healthcare, the team should include physicians. A patient’s interaction with medical staff is at the center of the healthcare experience. Patient-physician relationships are a fundamental aspect of identifying potential grateful patients and harnessing their giving potential.  Often times, however, physicians are not directly associated with fundraising, mostly due to lack of understanding and opportunity.

Our research shows that engaging physicians and promoting their participation in fundraising reaps many benefits:

  • Patients are more likely to have developed trusting relationships with their physicians than with other staff. They are also more likely to view the physician as highly credible. By engaging in physician-led conversations surrounding potential projects, patients may feel more comfortable seeking information and ultimately making a gift.

  • The authenticity that comes from one-on-one conversation, directly with a physician, provides the opportunity for genuine communication and sincere engagement.

  • Participation of one motivates the participation of another. Training and education that begins with one physician can grow significantly over time.

  • Physicians are healthcare’s front line. Their work involves the commitment and dedication to an institution’s mission and its patients. As a result, their understanding of and value to the institution’s growth and success is unique.  They truly understand how philanthropic investment can change lives, and they can communicate that authentically.

While engaging physicians in your fundraising has these inherent advantages, formal training is an essential aspect of building physician involvement. It may also be advantageous to split out training programs by practice or service line due to differences in patient or physician experiences. Our study found that successful training programs include these fundamentals:

  • Educate physicians on the fundraising process. Many physicians may not be fully aware of the role of philanthropy in your institution, the direct impact on their work and the methods that fundraising staff use to pursue gifts.

  • Educate physicians on how to identify potential donors. Stress that there are several indicators to look for beyond wealth, such as the expression of appreciation, interest in volunteering opportunities, and desire to give back.

  • Provide resources for physicians to use when soliciting potential donors such as presentations, conversation starters, data reports, trends, and marketing materials that explain the value of a gift.

  • Provide different methods of reaching out and communicating to patients such as writing letters, in-person conversations, and phone calls.

  • Provide step-by-step guidance for how to participate in cultivation and solicitation activities.

As you think about ways to engage physicians in fundrasing, please do not hesitate to reach out to Adam Wilhelm. We are happy to further discuss any questions or other sector specific thoughts you may have.

Nonprofit Trends, Healthcare Trends, Fundraising

Adam Wilhelm

Adam Wilhelm is Vice President at Campbell & Company. A hands-on collaborator, Adam Wilhelm engages organizational leadership and volunteers and translates their visions into implementable activities for fundraising teams.

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