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 6-part series—explores the first factor: Donor-centric, major gift focus.
Success in healthcare philanthropy looks much different in today’s changing landscape—with larger systems, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions—than it did even a decade ago, when more hospitals were stand-alone community entities.
One of the determining factors among those institutions that are most successful is a donor-centric, major gift focus, rather than the prevailing focus on events, direct response, and digital strategies to raise funds.
At the baseline of performance, healthcare philanthropy still finds its primary focus on these areas. The occasional major gift comes in, usually from a donor who is motivated and initiates the gift rather than as the result of a well-developed major gift strategy. Philanthropy team members may have responsibility for other duties in addition to major gifts, wearing multiple hats.
As philanthropy teams grow and become more established with a fundraising strategy, major gift efforts take a larger role in the overall plan. There is an added degree of intentionality about working with individuals who have demonstrated a consistent level of engagement, perhaps through repeated annual giving over multiple years.
At this mid-stage of commitment to a donor-centric major gift focus, the responsibility for major gifts is factored into job descriptions. The team leader has some way to measure performance through metrics, targets, and goal setting with team members. As a team, a greater percentage of overall fundraising production can be attributed to major gifts. Some team members may spend more time dedicated to individual donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. While fundraising events may still be the most visible source of revenue, quietly cultivated and procured individual major gifts are seen as a prominent part of the bottom line, with a lower cost to raise a dollar and a higher return on investment.
Continuing along the philanthropy performance maturity continuum, high-performing organizations emphasize major individual giving as the primary objective. The philanthropy team is distributed evenly between frontline, whose dedicated focus is individual major gifts, and those with responsibility for operations support and other fundraising activities. The team has an overall individual major gift revenue production goal. Resources are allocated to the major gift strategy, funding infrastructure, systems, research, and support that help drive high-return performance. Tracking donor information becomes the “business intelligence” of the major gift initiative, directing philanthropy team members to get out of the office and in front of referral partners, discovering highly-qualified potential donors and developing sophisticated strategies to help individuals move forward with donor engagement and commitment.
What gets measured gets done. Establishing priorities, measurements and performance objectives with a major gift, donor-centric focus will help advance your efforts toward a high-performing major gift focus.
Our strategic partnership team stands ready to walk alongside you in strengthening the culture of philanthropy at your healthcare organization by listening to your needs and customizing a plan that is tailored for your organization’s long-term success.