Grateful patient programs, or GPPs, as they’ve become known, are healthcare fundraising initiatives where current and past patients are cultivated and solicited for support.  Patients are a natural constituency for healthcare organizations, and patients may, depending on the care they have received, form particularly strong and significant emotional ties with either or both the facility and their caregivers. They may also have a vested interest in investing in the future capabilities of the facility as they age.

As healthcare organizations make the decision to test this often lucrative fundraising path, it is important to think through the process and make certain that the process selected meets the organizations goals and objectives. 

Most healthcare organizations recognize the need to segment their patient populations based on financial capacity or ability to give, as well as on propensity to give.  A screening service provides this capability.  Successful grateful patient fundraising programs screen their patient populations for several reasons:

Who is our client today?

Many health care institutions choose to screen their current admittance lists or census populations for the purpose of knowing who is currently using their facilities or services.  There are several possible reasons for wanting to know this information:

  • Prospect Identification: To identify potential major gift prospects 
  • Stewardship: To identify current donors and VIP’s 

In either case, there are a number of actions that organizations can take upon identifying prospects and/or donors:

  • They may want to take actions to positively affect the person’s experience while in the facility (with all patients, of course, receiving the same level of outstanding health care)
    • Visitation by a stewardship officer, medical liaison, staff VIP, major gift officer or othernon-soliciting staff member);
    • Provide perks such as VIP services, concierge service, free parking, cafeteria privileges for family members and the like;
    • Delivery of a ‘goody bag’ with personal items and/or educational information; and/or
    • Acknowledgment and appreciation of current/past support
  • They may want to quickly capitalize on the connection shortly after their discharge
    • Fast-track qualified prospects into major gift track with prompt post-discharge visitation;
    • Prompt follow up letter or phone call from the president, chairman, director or other VIP;
    • Invitation to special event or membership program; and/or
    • High-end grateful patient solicitation or cultivation

Who was our client recently?

Organizations may also choose to screen patients for the purpose of identifying who was in their facilities, or used their services, recently.  Again, there may be several reasons for wanting to determine this information:

  • Prospect Identification:  To identify potential major gift prospects
  • Segmentation: To segment and/or stratify prospects for grateful patient fundraising initiatives

Again, there are numerous actions an organization may want to pursue with the intelligence gathered from a screening of recently discharged clients:  

  • They may want to initiate personalized cultivation strategies for certain segments or individuals considered major gift prospects.  These actions may be similar or identical to those identified above:
    • Fast-track qualified prospects into major gift track with post-discharge visitation 
    • Follow-up letter or phone call (by president, chairman, director or other VIP)
    • Invitation to special event or membership program
    • High-end grateful patient solicitation or cultivation
  • They may want to capitalize on the positive feelings of recently discharged patients, deemed most likely and able to give, by contacting them with a fundraising appeal
    • Grateful patient mailing
    • Telephone solicitation
    • E-solicitation

Before you embark on the GPP journey, be sure you have identified your goals and objectives.  Your goals will dictate the process you select.  See Part Two of this blog for a discussion of the process choices you may face as you set up a grateful patient program.

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