One emerging trend among highly successful medical development organizations holds great promise for engaging physicians in a robust referral-based philanthropy program: Think of physicians as one would think of donors. That is, apply the same concepts, tools, and processes one utilizes with donors to work effectively and efficiently with physicians.
With this principle in mind, some highly successful development organizations have implemented a system of physician portfolios. Just as each development professional has a portfolio of donors, he or she also has a portfolio of physicians.
Building and managing a portfolio of highly engaged physicians is similar to building and managing a portfolio of highly committed donors. For instance, a development professional can work with only so many; which ones will provide the greatest return on investment of time and resources? What process can be utilized to engage them? What strategies inspire them to deepen commitment?
The number of physicians per portfolio varies by organization. The key is organizing those physicians strategically, like one would donors:
- A certain percentage of highly engaged physicians that the development professional works with regularly
- Another percentage of physicians that the development professional works with less frequently, with emphasis on deepening their engagement
- A remainder of physicians “in the pipeline”
The following questions may provide a useful litmus test for prioritizing physicians in the portfolio:
- Are they in a priority area for fundraising?
- Does their area lend itself to philanthropy?
- Are they themselves philanthropic?
- Do they hold an influential position within their department?
- Are they opinion leaders?
- Do they feel comfortable inviting other health professionals to participate?
- Are they currently involved in any well-known projects or research?
- Do they indicate an interest in learning more about philanthropy or fundraising, or have they had previous fundraising success?
Not all physicians are good candidates for development partnerships, and some are better candidates than others. By first determining which physicians represent the best investment of time and energy, and then taking a strategic approach to engaging them, one can be more effective and efficient in building a robust referral-based philanthropy program.