One of the reasons clinicians might be hesitant to participate in philanthropy and a patient referral program is that they do not understand clearly the critical roles they play in the process. We recently had the opportunity to interview a clinician and chief medical officer who, through her experiences in philanthropy, had a firm grasp of her philanthropic roles.

1. Form a Partnership

“It’s extremely important to create meaningful partnerships between our clinicians and our philanthropy group.”


Development professionals are a valuable resource for clinicians. As relationship experts, they can provide insight into donor motivation and what donors will find compelling philanthropic opportunities. Clinicians can also lean on their organization’s development professionals to handle all the details of the contribution, freeing the clinician to concentrate on what he or she does best—sharing his or her passion for medicine with donors and potential donors.

2. Respond appropriately to gratitude

“As physicians, we frequently encounter patients that express their gratitude and our reflex response is to say, ‘That’s just part of my job.’”


In accepting an expression of gratitude with a sincere “thank you,” clinicians open the opportunity to connect patients and family members to the healthcare institution in a more meaningful way.

3. Make referrals

“When a patient expresses gratitude, there may be an opportunity to partner with that patient or their family to find avenues for them to be able to express their gratitude.”


When patients or family members allude to or make direct references to a desire to engage, clinicians should make a referral to their development partner. It is the development professional’s job to determine ways in which the patient or family member would like to be further engaged—and to keep the clinician informed each step of the way.

4. Spend the money

“I felt a strong obligation that we use the generosity they provided us and that we use it in a meaningful way. We would meet with the donor twice a year to report what we had been able to achieve through their contribution. It was very meaningful for them to know and to see a tangible outcome from the gift they had given us.”


Clinicians should be diligent in using the funds from a contribution and providing stewardship to the donor. Showing the impact of their contribution further deepens the commitment donors have with the healthcare organization. The clinician we interviewed shared that, due in part to the stewardship she provides, donors she has worked with have given multiple contributions to her healthcare organization.

Participating in philanthropy has been tremendously enriching to the career of the clinician we interviewed. “It definitely provided me a real time example of how partnering as a physician with philanthropy can translate into meaningful activities that then come back and benefit our patients and their families. To be able to see that circle complete was extremely valuable for me.”


Discover how you can partner with Advancement Resources to provide training for clinicians at your organization.

Clinician Engagement