From our work with hundreds of healthcare organizations across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, we’ve discovered six key factors that predict success in philanthropy. This post—part of our six-part series—explores the sixth, and final, factor:
Commitment to Philanthropy Infrastructure and Operations.
It’s time to set your sights on achieving success in healthcare philanthropy like you have never achieved before. Doing the same things you’ve always done will not create different results. For optimal philanthropic success, you need to ensure your organization’s commitment to philanthropy infrastructure and operations. How can you show philanthropy’s value to your organization’s leadership in demonstrable ways? Let’s break that down.
First, achieving ultimate success requires sufficient development staff. For healthcare philanthropy team leaders, this can be a difficult conversation to pursue with administrators, especially if cost-cutting and performance optimization are current priorities. To obtain funding approval for additional full-time equivalencies (FTEs), you will need to make a financial case—or “speak CFO.” Demonstrate that current team members are optimally deployed and are closely managing their portfolios. Show your pipeline for developing new donors; your stewardship cycle for returning to current donors with next opportunities; and your ROI for each FTE on your team, including the percentage of time each one has dedicated to frontline fundraising. It’s important to also demonstrate the added value of your support team and how researchers, prospect managers, database managers, and donor coordinators free frontline fundraisers to maximize productivity.
Second, when it comes to operations, you need to have the right systems in place, along with a strong support team, to drive productivity. Database management, reports, and business information are key to keeping opportunities at the forefront. Prospect management and portfolio review can be powerful tools to increase productivity. Tracking all these elements—clinician engagement, referrals, follow up, communication, and donor development cycles—allows you to know where all your team members are and where they need to go. When frontline fundraisers practice the art of philanthropy with the correct systems in place, the team’s success will be statistically unparalleled—success that your organization’s leadership will notice and support.
The third aspect of achieving optimal success is placing an emphasis on your philanthropy team members’ preparation. One key to optimizing performance and fostering fulfillment and satisfaction of your team is ensuring that they have access to current philanthropy training that is pertinent to their work with your organization. Creating an annual training cycle for continual education helps team members grow professionally. Training and coaching can make a tremendous difference in developing the skills of all your team members. Providing access to professional tools and trainings that support team members’ work is part of preparation.
Now, as we face the future in the wave of “The Great Retirement/Resignation/Reshuffle,” it is critical to focus on recruitment and retention. When possible, it is better to promote from within, growing your own leaders and advancing your current team, though recruiting new team members will be an essential aspect of growth. Being clear about your organization’s culture, mission, values, and style will help you hire people who will best fit the role and complement your team. Rewarding your team in ways that are relevant to their needs will help you retain top performers who have the skills and experience to go anywhere they want. Developing and retaining talented team members strengthens and sustains your organization’s success—another thing that leadership will notice and support.
Commitment to philanthropy infrastructure and operation is like planting and watering the seeds of trees that will later provide much needed fruit. As the wise leader of some ancient past might have said, “The best time to plant a tree for shade or fruit was twenty years ago. The second-best time is today.” Taking inventory of where you are with staff, systems, and preparation, will ensure your team is properly prepared and has the support of your organization’s leadership to achieve greater success in the years to come.
Put the experience and skills of our strategic partnership team to work for you! They can walk alongside you and your team as you work with your organization’s leadership to strengthen its culture of philanthropy.