Development professionals who work with healthcare organizations often discover that one of their greatest challenges is getting the buy-in of clinicians in making philanthropic referrals. How can development professionals overcome this reticence?

Just as development professionals work to deepen engagement with donors, they also must work to deepen engagement with clinician partners. Apply the relationship skills you have developed through working with donors to clinician partners. Building a trust-based relationship takes time. Here are three ways to strengthen the trust between clinicians and the foundation:

Make clinicians aware of the work of the foundation.

Just as we wouldn’t expect donors to offer support for something about which they know nothing, we shouldn’t expect clinicians to embrace the unknown. And for many clinicians, the foundation is a complete unknown. Consider creating meaningful ways to tell the story about the power of fundraising on both broad and small scales. What opportunities exist hospital- or system-wide to demonstrate the impact philanthropy has on the healthcare your organization delivers? On a smaller scale, what opportunities exist to interact with clinicians, either individually or in group settings, to share how philanthropy has helped elevate the quality of care they deliver?

Helping clinicians recognize the opportunity philanthropy represents to them and their work is an important first step in engagement.

Build clinicians’ trust in a professional partnership.

Consider all the ways in which we bring professionalism to relationships with donors. How might we demonstrate to clinicians the professionalism we bring to a philanthropic partnership with them? It can be as simple as showing respect for their time by keeping meetings short and focused. Or helping them recognize the process-based approach we take to donor development. Or demonstrating intellectual curiosity in their work.

Building clinicians’ confidence in our professionalism heightens their willingness to engage in a trust-based partnership.

Ask the Passion Question to clinicians.

Asking potential donors the Passion Question affords them the opportunity to articulate the impact they would like to have. With a little tweaking, the Passion Question can help clinicians recognize how contributions can advance their work: “What would you like to do with a contribution that would be meaningful to your work?” Just as we help potential donors explore the impact that different levels of giving would have on a program or project, we can do the same with clinician partners.

Deepening engagement with donors and potential donors is really all about building trust-based relationships. In doing the same with clinicians, development professionals lay a solid foundation on which a robust clinician-referral program can be built.

Strengthen the approaches and tactics to effectively engage and build robust working relationships with health professionals that lead to increased philanthropic contributions by attending a public offering of Dynamics of Clinician Engagement.

Dynamics of Clinician Engagement