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CEO Corner: Practical Ideas for Stewarding Pandemic Donors

Alice Ayres
Published:  09/15/2020
masked woman showing older woman an iphone

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

If you are like many of the members I have spoken with, you have a wonderful problem on your hands: how to steward all the new donors who came forward this past spring to help with food, PPE, and cash.

These donors do not look like our grateful patient donors. Instead, they are more likely to be Good Samaritan donors or social change agents or, as one member I spoke to recently called them, crisis donors. Because of this, the question is how do you engage them once the crisis is over?

I was recently part of a panel at APRA’s virtual conference in which we talked about the many ways that prospect research is responding to the pandemic. Prospect researchers are digging into crisis donors and finding that they have many of the characteristics of other donors. They give charitably to causes and organizations they care about. They are drawn to help others. They are aware of world events and feel a responsibility to help in ways big and small. But they are different in a significant way: they have not had significant experience with our organizations in the past.

Many of you have shared the creative ways you are working to engage these donors, to good effect. Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk about ROI: Share the impact of the gift using video, photos, and the words of the clinicians and patients that have been helped by the gift. These donors want to know that their gift made an immediate impact on the pandemic. Tell them the stories to make that impact real.
  • Research Your Prospects: What other charities do they give to? How did they come to give to you: was it online? Was it a local business owner who found they had a new way to help in this crisis? When you understand your donors’ motivations better, you can engage them in other areas of the hospital’s work.
  • Make Your Plans Clear: As we move into the fall, there is potential for new outbreaks and renewed need. Share how your organization is getting ready to face the next potential crisis. Ask these same donors who came to the rescue to help you prepare so that any upcoming crisis is not as bad as the last one.
  • Demonstrate Your Expertise: A study done recently by Edelman showed that healthcare is the most trusted industry for information about the pandemic, well above the world’s governments and news outlets. Convene virtual fireside chats with your clinicians to talk about what is happening, what the research is showing, and what all of us, as potential patients, should know.
  • Show How You Help: Many of these donors are focused on the health and wellbeing of their broader communities, and they may not know about all the great work your organization does outside the four walls of the hospital. Arrange calls with your community health teams to share how your organization makes impact in your community and how donors can help.

For more on this topic, and lots of other ways to practice at the very top of your profession, join us for AHP's Virtual International Conference, when you’ll benefit from more than 40 professional development sessions delivered over two days on October 21 and 22, and on demand for a limited time afterward.

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Meet The Author

Alice Ayres
Alice Ayres
President and CEO
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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