As we discussed in parts one and two of this series, screening has allowed you to segment your list of patients, past and current, into discrete segments based on your fundraising goals and initiatives.  In this post, we’ll look at the actions that must be assigned and completed to make a success of your fundraising plans.

Which actions will we take and who will be responsible for the follow through?

Once you have segmented your file appropriately for the purpose(s) you have identified, it is imperative that you have a plan to address specific actions to be taken, and the person responsible for performing the actions.  This plan should also address the communication flow from person to person so that each responsible person has the right information and data to make the best decisions in a timely way.  It is also very important that data concerning individuals’ wealth attributes, demographics, or patient status does not circulate through more staff than absolutely necessary, so your plan should address how access to data will be appropriately limited.

For those who want to positively affect the experience of clients today, how will this occur?  Will the patient, or the patient’s family, be visited by a hospital or foundation official?  Will a goody bag with appropriate amenities and educational literature be delivered?  Will the patient receive room, parking or meal upgrades?  Whatever the action, plan it in advance, follow it consistently, and keep a record of any contacts, so you can measure the success of your initiatives later. 

Anyone deemed a major gift prospect and receiving personalized contact from the healthcare or foundation staff should be tracked appropriately.  For most organizations this will mean tracking those individuals from within their CRM or Donor Management System (DMS).  Therefore, one of the activities will be to create new records in the DMS and integrate the wealth indicators and any contact information or feedback.  Normally, the database administrator or gifts processing personnel would be responsible for these actions.

For entities choosing to engage in patient visitation, consider the following:

  • Patient visits are never solicitation opportunities or events. 
  • Always check with medical personnel to ensure that the patient is able and willing to receive visitors.
  • Keep your visit brief and focused on initiating a positive relationship with the patient and/or the patient’s family. The patient/family should know the visitor is there to enhance the patient’s comfort, well-being, peace of mind and sense of security.  Not for any potential benefit or future payoff to the organization.
  • Appropriate follow up after the patient is released from the hospital will be an essential element of the overall strategy.
  • Organizations assign visitation to a variety of staff members.  It is important to find the right fit for this duty.  Some choices include: Major Gift Officer or other Foundation representative, Stewardship Officer, medical liaison, etc. This individual should be patient-focused, as well as observant.  Training in capturing clues relevant to the fundraising team is advised.

For those screening to determine who was recently a user of your facilities or services, there may be multiple actions outlined. 

  • Some organizations will want to use the data to determine which individuals are potential major gift prospects.  For these, the immediate action will be to send a personalized letter or place a phone call.  The letter or call should come from the highest ranking institution or foundation representative appropriate to the patient’s prospect potential.  If the initial contact is well-received, further follow-up should include plans for a face-to-face meeting.  Again, it is essential that all contacts with major gift prospects be recorded and tracked, so these prospects should be added to the DMS unless there are strict prohibitions against this practice.
  • For those screening to provide additional data to improve a grateful patient direct mail, telethon, or e-solicitation efforts, they may want to select different ask amounts, or ask “strings,” for different segments of the patient file.  Many organizations find that they can improve their average gift size by asking for larger gifts from those who have the identified capacity to give.  A helpful exercise in making this determination is to calculate the average gift size for certain populations, for instance those in a specific capacity range (e.g., $500K to $999K) or having a certain Propensity to Give score (e.g., P2G 1 or P2G 2).  Then base your ask amount or ask string for like populations on that average.  Our research shows that average gift sizes do correlate positively with higher capacity and better propensity scores.

Most organizations do not include grateful patient prospect or patient lists in their DMS systems until that person has either:

  • Become a donor by contributing to the organization
  • Been qualified as a potential major gift prospect where tracking contacts and actions is essential to successful cultivation

I hope we’ve helped answer some of the questions you have about starting a successful Grateful Patient Program.  As you have learned, it can be a complex yet rewarding fundraising initiative.  WealthEngine has worked with hundreds of healthcare clients over 10+ years and we have experienced and knowledgeable consultants on staff to help guide you through the set up and implementation of a program that’s right for your organization.  For a free, no strings consultation, take our GPP Maturity Assessment.

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