Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can have a profound impact on patients and family members, creating highly apparent life-changing experiences that often lead to philanthropy.

But are there other individuals at your institution who are creating similar but less apparent experiences?

Volunteer caregivers can have a tremendous impact on patients and family members. They may be those who provide companionship during chemotherapy. They may be those who assist family and friends in waiting areas. They may be those who provide care through child-life activities. They may be those who provide pastoral care, patient transportation, or guest services. The list goes on and on.

Two excerpts from interviews we’ve conducted with donors provide insight into what these experiences mean to patients and family members—and to the volunteers themselves.

The first is from a former patient who went on to make multiple contributions and become actively engaged as a volunteer at the hospital and with an organization that provides wigs to female patients:

We give them a lot of attention at a time when … on top of everything else medically that’s going on with them, they’re losing their hair. We dote on them. And it’s really important to them. … Frequently they will thank us graciously and occasionally will ask, ‘Can we make a donation?’ … It’s great to know that what little I’m doing is making an impact for some of them.

The second is from a donor reflecting on the impact hospice volunteers and nurses made prior to her husband’s death:

I’m in awe of what they’re able to do, and the unselfishness of it. I view it at such a different level than a nurse or a doctor, and I don’t mean to take anything away from them. But certainly the whole experience was life-changing. So I, that’s why it’s more important to me to contribute to what they do… It’s a thank you for allowing Jay to die at home. With me there. And my daughter there. And making that possible, so that we could live through it.

Caregiver Appreciation Month is a great time to recognize the volunteers at your organization who truly make a difference. It’s also a good time to consider the role they play in your organization’s culture of philanthropy.

Ask & Act

  • How might you demonstrate appreciation to your volunteers in a meaningful way?
  • How might you help your volunteers recognize the roles they play in creating meaningful experiences?
  • Do your volunteers understand the connection between these experiences and a patient or family member’s desire to give back?
  • How might you equip your volunteers to be an integral part of your culture of philanthropy?