Advancement Resources and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) have partnered to conduct an in-depth study into the relationships between development leaders and healthcare executives that lead to success in fundraising. Building up to the release of the full report later this month, we will preview key findings from the research. Click here to view the first preview of key findings on Key I: Shared Vision and Operational Knowledge.

Key II: Disciplined Attention to Communications

Our research shows that in highly successful relationships, development leadership and executive suite leadership are on the same page about the importance of philanthropy at the institution. When a CEO does not view philanthropy as a significant source of potential funding, the odds of success greatly decrease.

It is far from groundbreaking to state that communication is vital to strong relationships. We have heard this fundamental theme our entire lives, spanning across all personal and professional interactions. Yet, mastering the fundamentals is often the key to success in any endeavor. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that our study found that strong relationships between development leaders and hospital CEOs is predicated upon a commitment to careful, strategic communications. The inverse was seen in weaker relationships, where some CDOs tended to shroud the inner workings of development from operational executives.

You have to have a respect for their language; you have to learn to speak CEO.

— Chief Development Officer


I think some of the mistakes come from making our work so mysterious. I don’t think we do it on purpose. It just seems that we don’t always do a good job communicating how we do what we do.

— Chief Development Officer

Our research uncovered a number of interesting factors of robust CDO-CEO communications. For example, the frequency of communication—both formal and informal—was in itself not a strong indicator of whether a given relationship was successful or not. Instead, it was the quality of communication, not quantity, that was the primary determinant of success. For example, relationships were stronger when the CDO adapted to the CEO’s preferred communication style and learned to speak the language of the CEO.

To discover all of our findings in depth, stay tuned for the release of the full report later this month. It is our hope that the Healthcare Philanthropy Leadership Essentials Report will contribute to building CDO-CEO relationships and instill development professionals around the globe with the confidence and knowledge they need to establish and leverage a culture of philanthropy in the executive suite.

If you are one of the leaders that contributed your expertise and experiences to this research, thank you once again for assisting in this vital project that will benefit the entire healthcare philanthropy industry.


View the webinar: Engaged Leaders, Improved Outcomes—An Exclusive Preview of the Healthcare Philanthropy Leadership Essentials Report

Download the Healthcare Philanthropy Leadership Essentials Report