Proper investment in a philanthropy office is vital to success. With that investment comes increased questions, such as “What will success look like?” These questions come from the C-suite as well as the board. Being able to properly answer the “success” questions about the results of your program can help create partnerships throughout your organization.
The AHP 2016 Report on Giving confirms some clear trends for giving to healthcare. Data is a powerful tool for understanding fundraising success and assessing the effectiveness of your fundraising program; and the AHP report provides ample data for your use. What is critically important is applying the right data points and modulating the individual circumstances of your institution for effective results.
What type of hospital are you?
Are you an academic medical center or a community hospital? Your context matters. For example, a community hospital’s ability to raise money varies wildly from that of a regional medical center. Not surprising, your ability to raise money is tied to the area that you serve. Therefore, expectations regarding your fundraising results should be based on your service area, both its size and economic make up.
Is your fundraising program a good investment?
Yes! Per the AHP study, average cost to raise a dollar still hovers around $0.23, or a margin of $0.77 per dollar raised (for all types of institutions). Considering that most hospitals function on an operating margin of 3%–5%, philanthropy remains a tremendous investment. Encourage your leadership to view the development program in terms of its return on investment and as a revenue stream, not an expense.
What size staff should your fundraising program have?
Nationally, the search for talent remains extremely competitive. At each conference, AHP, AAMC, etc., annual announcements of “the largest attendance ever” acknowledge growing staff size. But is a continually expanding staff right for your organization? An increased staff size does not necessarily mean you will raise more money. Reviewing your program to make sure you have the right staff members performing the right fundraising tasks in the right ways is important to making sure you maximize your return on investment.
Develop the right set of benchmarks for your organization with multiple years in mind.
- Determine which benchmarks are effective gauges of your program’s expected results and outcomes.
- Establish and document a methodology for determining the definition for each benchmark and data points to measure it.
- Create a pool of peers that are a realistic, yet aspirational, set.
- Utilize the data to develop strategies that will enable you to move the bar on your programmatic results.
- Share the results with key stakeholders to help build partnerships in resourcing your program appropriately.
Bentz Whaley Flessner specializes in benchmarking. We help organizations with their understanding of fundraising success by bringing clarity to a sea of information and providing recommendations for strategies that will work for your organization. Contact us today to talk about your program’s aspirations—we’ll help you get there.
BWF Client Advisory originally published January 26, 2017
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