The Philanthropic Vortex
This article is adapted from a 2019 AHP webinar series event presented by George F. Maynard III, FAHP, senior principal consultant for Accordant Philanthropy.
Cultivating gratitude among patients is critical to the success of many health care philanthropy campaigns, but gratefulness has not always been the focus of campaigns in the past. George F. Maynard III, FAHP, senior principal consultant for Accordant Philanthropy, says today’s campaigns should focus on a more relational view of the philanthropic progress and should use “The Philanthropic Vortex™.”
The Philanthropic Vortex™ is based on six steps that help define strategies to draw patients to a health system and donor prospects to philanthropy.
- Awareness: Patients and donors need to know about a health care system to determine how to best use its services. System leaders should ask themselves what their health system represents in the community, and then they should cultivate their marketing message around that goal.
- Understanding: As potential patients and donors learn more about your health system, they craft a perception of what the center and its physicians represent. This is the time to make sure your communications with the community are full of integrity.
- Image. Awareness and understanding work together to create the image that a community member has of the health care system. This is when the community member chooses to go to your health care system or somewhere else.
- Sampling crosses the line from marketing into philanthropy. This is when a patient visits your health system. If they have a bad experience, they’re unlikely to return. But if they have a good experience, they’ll continue with you and the experience may turn fully philanthropic.
- Preference establishes your health system as their top choice. Experiences should continue to be meaningful and positive.
- Advocacy. After a great health care experience, community members can become your representatives in the community.
The Office of Philanthropy and Partnership at Greenville Health Systems, where Maynard was formerly vice president of institutional advancement, completed its first philanthropic campaign in 2016, focusing primarily on relationships, rather than revenue. The Philanthropic Vortex™ helped create a cyclical environment of gratitude and giving, and the office surpassed its fundraising goal by over $10 million.
They found the deeper into the vortex that community members went, the more members feel like an integral and important part of the campaign’s success. The environment of giving became stronger, more engaging, more meaningful and more motivational.
The campaign focused on five areas of health services: cancer, pediatrics, women, neurology and the heart. It prioritized two academic programs for high school and college students, as well as a new wellness initiative.
Here’s how GHS did it:
- They formed Advancement Councils that met monthly to discuss campaign progress, prospect identification and member involvement in solicitation efforts. These councils included community members and grateful patients or families as council chairs, a service line physician leader and a major gift officer.
- A Campaign Steering Committee, consisting of a chairperson, all Advancement Council Chairs, all service line physician leaders, the president and CEO of GHS and the dean of the School of Medicine, was responsible for the overall success of the campaign. They met quarterly and received support from the vice president of institutional advancement.
- They encouraged Physician Leaders to be engaged from the beginning. These leaders provided valuable insight into the needs of the community and built groups of grateful patients and families who were closely tied to their service line, which resulted in a deeper relationship.
- Connection Point Meetings (CPM) played to the strengths and relationships of Advancement Council members to cultivate prospects for specific areas on a large scale. These large gatherings included program speakers such as physicians or grateful patients, as well as a social hour.
- The MGO followed up after the CPM meetings. No solicitation was done at these gatherings – rather, they targeted prospects after the meeting with a carefully crafted letter of thanks. This led to significantly greater gifts from donors who now had a personal relationship with the campaign.
It is important for today’s campaigns to go beyond focusing solely on capital needs. While important, the strongest advocates and givers are grateful patients. This means the relationships with physicians, community members and philanthropists are critical to the success of any health care campaign.
For more information on the Philanthropic Vortex™, watch the full webinar.