Who are the fundraisers at your hospital, healthcare system, or medical center? According to one clinician-researcher we spoke with, the answer is everyone. As we work to create opportunities for patients, families, and community members to contribute to our important work in ways that are meaningful to them, it is critical that all team members are prepared for their roles in the culture of philanthropy.
Everybody is a fundraiser. That’s the physicians, my research coordinator, my administrative coordinator, myself, all my technologists, and even our front desk people. If it isn’t in their minds all the time or at least in the back of their mind all the time to be thinking about it, they’ll miss many opportunities to help an individual donate to our department.
As you consider your organization’s philanthropic culture, here are four critical questions to ask that can help you assess who the fundraisers at your organization are:
1. Are your organization’s leaders bought in to the importance of helping all associates succeed in their fundraising roles?
The tone is set at the top. If organizational leaders believe everyone has a role to play in fundraising, then the engagement will follow. If leadership does not recognize the importance of this priority, however, then the development team may be the only fundraisers the organization has—limiting what can be accomplished through philanthropy.
2. Does your team have a strategy in place for spreading the word about what philanthropy has accomplished and can accomplish in the future?
Team members are more likely to engage when they see the impact philanthropy can have—as well as the impact of their own involvement. When we include all associates in our work by sharing this critical impact information, they are more likely to feel like part of the fundraising effort—and perhaps to desire deeper engagement.
3. Has your team taken steps to equip all associates to fulfill their roles in fundraising?
After team members are bought in, they need a toolkit for how to engage in conversations with interested patients and families, accept gratitude, and refer interested persons to philanthropy. Providing these tools is an essential step toward helping all associates see how fundraising fits into their roles.
4. Is your infrastructure equipped to handle widespread involvement in philanthropy?
As more associates become familiar with their fundraising roles, referrals tend to follow. To establish a referral-based medical philanthropy program, ensure that your personnel, database, and other processes are in place to process referrals optimally. These components are critical to creating the capacity to support associates in their important fundraising roles.
Creating a culture in which all associates are fundraisers is no small task, but when we begin by strategically engaging those team members who are most likely to influence the culture and drive success, a pattern of meaningful engagement can grow. Philanthropy champions, like the clinician-researcher quoted above, can help propel the initiative forward.
Strategic partners are another valuable tool for assisting your organization in establishing referral-based medical philanthropy. Considering your organization’s current culture, do you have the necessary pieces in place for success? Would the assistance and expertise of an outside partner be beneficial?