5 Healthcare Philanthropy Tips for CEOs

July 6, 2017 June Bradham

As proven through the many years of partnership we have had with healthcare philanthropies, it is no surprise that we have seen many foundations faced with very similar challenges. Some solutions take years to strategize and implement, while others are relatively quick fixes with the agreement of key leadership.

For example, let’s take a look at a hospital CEO (or any executive leadership position). How he or she approaches a project, from a simple donor outreach program to a massive capital campaign, is key. The CEO should be involved in the planning from the start (preferably two years before the start!). Proactive CEOs are realizing just how valuable the philanthropic factor is to the sustainability of their hospital.

In this post, we will dive deeper into these 5 tips for CEOs to enhance philanthropy campaign success:

  • Include the physicians in your philanthropy process. They are connected to patients’ overall satisfaction and likelihood to give, and are often willing to discuss campaigns with them.
  • Include your governing board and foundation board and secure funding ahead of time.
  • Lead the project and stay involved. Let staff members do what they are good at, but always check in to see how leadership can help and elevate particular strategies.
  • Include the fundraisers and be a team player with both the hospital and foundation staffs.
  • Be the first to give. Setting the example for the board members to follow will certainly lead to higher employee giving and supporter donations

1. Include the physicians in your philanthropy process

Donors will be more receptive to a gift request when their physicians are part of the conversation. The next time a physician asks for new technology, highly trained staff or facility changes, please ask, “How can you help me fund that?” You are not asking them to make a gift, you are asking them to be a champion for the project.  Engage them early! They are the ones who best know what is important to patient care and which patients may help you with the funding.

2. Secure the funding ahead of time

Donors want to also hear from board members they know and respect about that gift you hope they will make. The number one predictor of success in healthcare fundraising is the amount of giving by the governing board and by the foundation board. Even if they are not the ones making all of the donations, they can be the ones to champion the cause. Fully prepare a plan for just where the funding will come from…how much needs to be allocated, borrowed, and donated before presenting to the board and asking them to lead the donation charge.

3. Lead the project and stay involved

A fundraising campaign takes two years of planning. It needs a purpose, plan, cost estimate and impact. How much you are going to earn, borrow or be given to make the project a success? Your physician champions, governing board and foundation board need to be fired up and believe that you need their hard earned money and time to make the next great thing happen. It’s the CEO’s responsibility to tell them what you need from them and how they can make an impact. Include them all in the plan as you strategize with the philanthropic leaders so that it is a team approach.

4. Include the fundraisers

Your fundraisers are uniquely suited to exercise emotional intelligence and key you in on physicians’ and board members’ reactions to the projects at hand. They will give you a pulse on roles, feelings and attitudes. If you will handle the financial aspect, your staff can queue you when they need more help or if there is a challenge brewing among the team members. It is your excitement and preparation that is key to a genuine partnership with the development team. Trust the team, lead the team and be an available resource to the team.

5. Be the first to give

You are the leader. Your joyful, significant gift will set the pace for others. Your leadership team, physicians and board members are watching. So just realize that your generosity in money and time is a critical example to set.

The C-Suite of a hospital and the facility’s foundation should be active partners to ensure the success of the hospital and system. If this is not already happening, philanthropies should make it a priority to get the CEO’s attention, working towards the common goal of successful fund raising and overall health of the ecosystem. It is proven that every $1 raised through the foundation is worth $10 on the hospital side. Where else can you get a return like that on your money?

Now, how do you move forward? Encouraging and working with hospital leadership to initiate these tips is a great start.

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