Why is it so difficult to engage physicians in fundraising?


Michael Delzotti, former Director of Philanthropic Resources at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Joe Golding, Chairman and CEO of Advancement Resources, explore the subject in the spring issue of the Healthcare Philanthropy journal.

As development professionals know, physician engagement is key to maximizing “grateful patient” philanthropy. Yet physicians tend to resist becoming involved in fundraising—and few development professionals really understand why.

In the article, “Overcoming Barriers to Physician Engagement,” Delzotti and Golding focus on five of the 12 keys to developing an effective referral-based philanthropy system. “Truly understanding how physicians see the world and applying this understanding to building better relationships with them has enabled us to achieve a higher level of physician engagement,” says Diane Chuoke, leader of MD Anderson’s physician engagement program.

In addition to the five factors discussed in the article, another key is the importance of recognizing that the physician-patient relationship is, as one physician puts it, “a precious thing,” and that physicians will resist any activity they perceive may damage that relationship. Advancement Resources’ research with physicians shows that the number two reason they are reluctant to engage with development professionals is trepidation: “What are they going to do to my patient?” Physicians know exactly what will happen to a patient they refer to another physician. However, they have no clear idea what will happen to a patient they refer to development. For this reason, it is critical that development has a clearly defined referral management process in place, and that development professionals are prepared to articulate the process to physicians.


View the full article in the Healthcare Philanthropy journal

To learn more about how to build a robust referral-based philanthropy system at your organization, contact us.

Working with Advancement Resources, Dartmouth-Hitchcock was able to create a more successful physician engagement strategy. Click the link below to learn more.

Click here to download the Dartmouth-Hitchcock case study