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Boosting Grateful Patient Programs with Prospect Research

Sarah Tedesco
Published:  12/20/2017

Turning patients into donors can be tricky. You have to be sensitive when speaking about health-related topics, and you always have to consider ethical practices with healthcare philanthropy. 

So how can you make sure you’re reaching out to the right people in the right way to ask for major gifts to your institution? Prospect research! Let’s get started.

1. Identify the right patients to approach.
Before you can start bringing in more major gifts, you need to know who to reach out to.

First, you’ll need to determine how often you’re going to screen your patients to look for prospective major donors. If you have the manpower to screen daily as patients are discharged, that’s great! If not, put your team on a weekly, monthly, or bimonthly schedule.

When it’s time to look for the most likely donors within your patient pool, take into consideration two important elements:

  • Wealth markers: Do your patients have the financial means to donate a major gift
  • Philanthropic indicators: Have your patients demonstrated an inclination toward charitable giving?

Depending on the number of people you have to help you out, you might be able to track down giving history and wealth information for all your patients manually. Much more likely, you will need a prospect screening service to move the process along more quickly.

2. Get smart about solicitations.

Prospect research doesn’t just help you identify your most likely major donors, it can also point you to the best way to reach out to them.

There are many ways you could format a solicitation, so be sure to choose the proper channel for the prospects that made your list based on their prospect profiles:

  • In person: If the patient has given to your institution before (or another one similar to yours) and you think they’re likely to give again, you could visit them at home as they recover to check up on them.
  • Over the phone: New prospects who display the right wealth markers and philanthropic indicators merit a phone call, especially from a high-level employee at your institution.
  • With a letter: When sending a letter, make sure that you include personalized elements (e.g., preferred name and title, dates of their stay) so your solicitation doesn’t seem like a generic form letter.
  • In an email: Emails are free and easy but less personal than other methods of solicitation, so save them for more general asks.

If you’ve never sent a solicitation letter before, you might consider starting with a template and personalizing it from there.

3. Follow up with prospective donors.

The goal of your grateful patient program isn’t to absorb one-time major donations and then move on to the next donor.

Instead, you should bring prospects into your grateful patient program with the goal of keeping them there!

To keep your patients-turned-donors engaged and ready to give again, you can turn to the results of your prospect research to find the perfect engagement plan for you:

  • Send a newsletter keeping donors up-to-date with your latest fundraising campaigns and how their funds are being used.
  • Host a donor event to celebrate your supporters’ contributions.
  • Elect program ambassadors, like doctors or gift officers, to reach out periodically to grateful patient program members.

The best way to keep members involved is to stay organized with your donor data to make sure no one gets lost. You’ll likely need donor management software to help you keep track of your program members — if you don’t already use a reliable CRM, consider one that claimed a spot on Double the Donation’s list of the top 13 donor management software.

Whether you’re looking for a way to start a grateful patient program or enhance an existing one, we hope these prospect research tips help you make your program the best it can be!

Sarah Tedesco is the Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.

NEWS  /01/29/19
Like a diagnostic tool in health care practice, informed prospect research helps focus the work of philanthropy on the right person, in the right place and at the right time.
NEWS  /08/08/13
Editor’s note: As we prepare for the 2013 AHP International Conference this October in Toronto, Ontario
NEWS  /09/26/18
After a positive health care experience and exceptional care, many patients and community members may express gratitude to their care team, but caregivers may not understand how to receive it.

Meet The Author

Sarah Tedesco

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