Look behind the scenes of any significant capital campaign or in the hallways of a high-performing hospital foundation, and you will likely find the hospital or health system chief executive officer (CEO) in lock step with the foundation head or chief development officer (CDO).
All high-performing CDOs know that their ability to grow gift revenue relies heavily on an institutional culture of philanthropy. This success depends on effective organizational dynamics, from a dedicated and generous board of trustees to a medical staff that collaborates regularly with foundation staff on grateful family fundraising. At the epicenter stands the CEO, whose grasp of philanthropic tenets and participation in the philanthropic process are essential to success. While this commitment to philanthropy has always been a valued best practice, such dedication is more important than ever in an environment of high turnover at the CDO level and intense competition for philanthropic support.
Too many stories are told these days of a CDO who lasts just a couple of years—or sadly even months—in their new role at a major healthcare institution or system. Much head scratching and wringing of hands follows, and sadly the situation sometimes repeats itself, perhaps multiple times. What’s happening? And what’s a CEO to do?
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