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CEO Corner: Changing Interests of Major Donors

Alice Ayres, MBA
Published:  06/19/2019

I had the pleasure of spending time last week with a group of approximately 50 AHP members at AHP’s New Jersey Bridge Series local event. The day opened with a star-studded panel of chief development officers from across the mid-Atlantic. I was struck by one area of discussion in particular – the changing interests of major gift donors – which closely aligned with a blog post I read recently by Gail Perry, “Major Donors are Changing – 5 Trends to Watch.”

A couple of things stand out:

Credibility Is Critical

Donors want to know the organization personally so they know they can trust you. That means major donors really need to get to know you. They want to know the hospital, the CEO and the development team. They want to know your strategic plan and your vision for the future. A meeting with the chief financial officer to talk about financial stewardship is a good idea, too.

Your board of directors can also help. They are leaders in the community and their “brands” can lend credibility to your organization. Additionally, things like a great LeapFrog rating, the US News reporting and even the AHP High Performer status can show your donors they are giving to a credible organization that cares about good stewardship of their dollars.

Return on Investment Matters

Today’s major donors want to make a measurable impact. Chief development officers at the New Jersey Bridge Series event talked a lot about the shift they are seeing from donors who want to know how big the letters will be on the building they helped to finance to donors who want to know how many patients have been cured and how many lives have been made better by their gifts. Recognition is more relevant for previous generations. Today’s donors want you to tell them how their dollar has made people better.

Major Donors Are Giving More per Donor

We continue to see growth in giving but declines in donors. This is confirmed by an Institute for Policy Studies report done in 2018 that shows high wealth donors are giving more frequently and in greater amounts. 

This really is the exclamation point on why to focus your time and effort cultivating major gifts.  And why you need to reinforce to your board and C-suite, physician leadership and the entire organization that identifying grateful patients with significant capacity to give is our No. 1 philanthropy priority.

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Meet The Author

Alice Ayres
Alice Ayres, MBA
President and CEO
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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