Many development professionals say it was an emotional experience that led them to this career path, but also be sure to bring up the training, certification and education that is required to do your job effectively. Emphasize your commitment to the mission of the hospital and build a bridge of mutual respect. Once caregivers understand the professional nature of the development world and what you’re trying to accomplish, the conversation changes and shifts to the importance of philanthropy.
3. Perspective and language differences
The terms “patient” and “prospect” may seem interchangeable to a development professional. To a caregiver, however, the person is his or her patient—never a prospect, says Godfrey. Be aware of how important language is and always use patient-first language. Be transparent with caregivers about the referral process and meet their expectations. At Bon Secours, Reynolds says her team embeds a development team member in each of the hospitals to extend face-to- face time with caregivers—building trust and familiarity in the referral process.
4. Perceived shortage of time
Reynolds emphasizes that it takes just as long to deflect and brush off gratitude from patients as it does to accept and reciprocate. Help caregivers understand that a patient’s gratitude is sincere and should not be minimized. Philanthropy is important to the entire health care system—it not only improves care, but also gives patients and their families a tangible way to express their gratitude.
When it comes time to introduce the referral process to physicians, ask for a 20minute meeting and stick to that time limit. Reynolds says it’s a “sweet spot,” because it’s not too long or too short to get the message across. During this meeting, bring up one or two people you identify as good candidates or ask caregivers for one or two patients that stood out to them with expressions of gratitude. Always have a basic level of respect for caregivers’ work and don’t take up too much of their time.
5. Lack of reciprocal interest
Do your research beforehand and show caregivers that you are sincerely interested in what they are doing day in and day out. For instance, there could be a new heart valve procedure that a doctor has been implementing in a minimally invasive way, so bring that up in your conversation to show you care. Intellectual curiosity means that you are informed and being proactive.
At the end of the day, caregivers should be active participants in the discussion of philanthropy. Your job is to ease any concerns caregivers may have, to respect the bond of the doctor-patient relationship, and to instill confidence in the efforts of the development team. The goal is to become professional partners who work in tandem rather than as separate entities.