Bentz Whaley Flessner

Best practices, strategies, and tips for fundraising.

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BWF Client Advisory: Five Important Findings for Community Hospital Fundraising

For a growing number of hospitals, particularly nonprofit community hospitals, philanthropy is considered a necessity. Philanthropy is no longer seen as only supporting added extras—it’s now a source of revenue that supports the overall care of patients. In many community hospitals across the country, philanthropy is part of the revenue mix and is part of ongoing discussions at both the management and board levels.

Bentz Whaley Flessner recently completed its 18th annual survey of What the Affluent Think About Giving to Healthcare. The full results of the survey will be released in April; however, preliminary findings provide a revealing perspective on how donors to different types of hospitals, medical centers, and care facilities give and with whom they prefer to interact.

This article dives into the data specific to community hospital donors and provides ideas on how to focus your efforts on donor behaviors.

  1. Donors decide to give to community hospitals due to two key motivations.

    First, donors believe that community hospitals are important to the community where they live.  Second, they had a recent personal or family experience at a community hospital that was positive.
    Philanthropy staff need to continue to show donors how philanthropic support helps create healthier communities—community benefit stories are great ways to illustrate how the hospital is helping create healthier communities. The patient experience is critical to the growth of philanthropy. Sharing this information with caregivers is a great way to reinforce the connection between patient care and philanthropy.

  2. When donors have a personal or family experience with their hospital, 53 percent of these donors made a charitable gift without being asked, and 38 percent were asked and made a gift.

    More specifically, of the 38 percent who were asked, 64 percent stated that they were asked by fundraising staff. Grateful patient programs are an important way for donors to learn more about the impact of philanthropy at your hospital.  An important consideration for any grateful patient program is whether to include high net worth individuals in an initial mailing.

  3. Donors responded that the top three individuals having the greatest impact on their decision to donate to the hospital were their physician or nurse, the Chief Executive Officer, and a Board member.

    Physicians and caregivers play an important role in overall donor experiences. Donors continue to want to show gratitude for the care they have received. Continue to engage with physicians and caregivers, leadership, and volunteers to help identify and provide advice on furthering a patient relationship with the hospital.

  4. Donors are more motivated to give when physicians, caregivers, CEOs, or board members know the hospital and its priorities, as well as have knowledge about the donor and their circumstances.

    Development staff need to prepare leadership for meetings with key donors. Staff can assist leadership in honing their message and providing them with valuable information about the donor they will be meeting. Donors want to be treated as investors in your organization. They want to know that their support will impact the programs they want to support.

  5. Of those surveyed, 85 percent of them had an estate plan.

    Besides supporting their spouse and family, 42 percent have included charitable giving in their estate plan. Also, 45 percent indicated that they had included their community hospital in their estate plan.Including charitable giving in estate plans continues to be a popular way to make a lasting legacy. Development staff in both small and large hospitals need to offer personal stories of donors who have joined your legacy society as well as provide information on how to leave your hospital in their estate plans. Ongoing stewardship is increasingly important as these individuals age—personal outreach provides a meaningful way for older adults to stay connected with the hospital.

As healthcare continues to react to changes in payer mix, government regulations, and community needs, philanthropy will be elevated as a revenue source that can make a significant impact on the bottom line as well as on the health of the communities it serves. Community hospitals have a unique role within a community, whether they are part of a larger system or not. Patients expect to be treated with care and compassion. Philanthropy can play a greater role in funding important programs, capital and equipment, and education. For more information regarding strategies for community hospital fundraising, contact Jennifer Svihus.

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