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Timing, Culture of Philanthropy Should Guide Grateful Patient Programs

One thing we’ve learned with regard to Grateful Patient programs is that different people use different approaches to get results. There are though, common threads to these different approaches.

Critical to any successful Grateful Patient program is a strong Culture of Philanthropy across the entire organization. A broad commitment must be established to create grateful patients, some of whom are able to be transitioned into becoming dedicated donors and supporters. These are people who invest in the mission and in the impact their gifts have on the community.

The importance of engaging potential supporters as early as possible is critical to the success of a Grateful Patient Program. Does that mean trying to engage them while they are still in the care of a healthcare facility? Yes, it does. That could take the form of a visit from someone at the Foundation or it could be a simple note or gesture of caring.

Many development offices may feel that they don’t have the resources to begin the cultivation process as early as is being suggested here, but we’ve seen it too often to ignore. The earlier you engage, the better.

Have you thought about implementing a strategic plan which includes specific steps for early prospect cultivation? It’s a process that requires efficient data management due to the critical nature of timing. Even for direct mail appeals to past patients, we have noticed a considerable drop in response rates to Grateful Patient mailings when the timing is significantly delayed (120 days or more). That’s why it’s so important to have an efficient process in place that allows for timely data and cultivation management.

The next element goes beyond the development office and really zeroes in on the importance of a Culture of Philanthropy being pervasive throughout the healthcare community. Follow-up work we have done with nonprofits we have worked on Grateful Patient programs with has shown that nearly 3/4th of a foundation’s top donors indicated that the person who had the greatest influence on their decision to give was from outside the development office. Don’t be fooled, though. In no way does this information minimize the importance of development in the process, but it does speak to the important role within development of establishing organizational involvement in donor cultivation and implementing processes that ensure people are being engaged AT THE RIGHT TIME.

I had occasion not too long age to listen to a radio interview on Nonprofit Radio. During the show it was mentioned that over 55% of individuals now giving to healthcare organizations are Grateful Patients. That number represents a large chunk of individual supporters who are investing in healthcare, wouldn’t you agree?

Takeaway: If 55% of those giving to healthcare are giving to Grateful Patient programs, they likely had a positive care experience. By the way, the Nonprofit Radio show I was listening to also mentioned that only 20% of the 35 million patient admissions annually in the U.S. are giving to their preferred healthcare organization. To me, that means that there is gold in this area, to put it bluntly. A key step for you would be to implement an efficient data management process that ensures you get the right message to the right person at the right time without putting an undue burden on your already overworked staff. Need help, call Rescigno’s!

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