Grateful Patient Program Basics

Last updated: December 10, 2020

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There are many important aspects to consider when fundraising for your hospital. One way you can simplify the entire process is through a grateful patient program. Let your friends at iWave break down how beneficial these programs can be!

Why Does Your Hospital Need a Grateful Patient Program?

As your hospital evolves with the latest healthcare trends, you’re eventually going to need some of the following:

  • State-of-the-art equipment: Searching for the latest cancer treatment or imaging software?
  • New employees and experts: Looking to grow your program or add a new department?
  • Building expansions: Want to add a new wing or expand your grounds to help more people in the community?
  • Facility renovations: Interested in upgrading to a more inviting facility with a modern design?

When you need to make a hefty purchase, one of the best ways to do so is with fundraised money. In such cases, it’s especially helpful to have a grateful patient program.

Watch our Webinar: Optimize Your Grateful Patient Program with Daily Wealth Screenings & AI

What’s a Grateful Patient Program?

A grateful patient program is a fundraising process that helps identify past patients who would be willing and able to support your hospital today. Simply put, these people are the success stories from your hospital and are proven to have the means to make a sizable donation to your programing.

When nonprofits want to fundraise, there are two key factors they need to consider: Does the potential donor have the ability to give and do they have the inclination to support your specific cause? People are more likely to support causes that are close to their heart. For example, if a donor is a cancer survivor or perhaps even lost a loved one to cancer, they may be more likely to donate to new cancer research.  

If someone was a patient in the past and your hospital was able to provide them with lifesaving treatment, then you’ve already identified a possible inclination to donate. By pooling donors from past patients, you’re more likely to receive the funds you need since these potential donors know your mission firsthand.

How Do You Build a Grateful Patient Program?

Now that you understand the importance of a grateful patient program, you may be wondering how to identify which patients should be included. Fortunately, there are many tools that can help you do just that.

One of the best ways to uncover the right grateful patients is through wealth screenings. Fundraising software can scan through billions of datapoints, such as home ownership and income, to provide you with a clear idea of how capable a patient is to become a major donor.

Personnel should forge strong relationships with patients regardless of their situation. A great bedside manner is something patients will later remember about your hospital and their time there—a factor that may sway their inclination to donate.

How to Make a Successful Program

When it comes to fundraising for nonprofit hospitals, the biggest hurdle to overcome is the lack of public awareness for a financial need. Unless the public hears otherwise, they’ll just assume your organization has all the funding it needs. As a hospital, you know philanthropy is key for maintaining your facilities and continuing to provide the best care to your patients.

When your audience knows that you rely on their funding, they’ll be more likely to contribute. This information can be stated on your website or in fundraising brochures. Some other key components to a highly success grateful patient program include:

  • Dedicated Staff: From meeting with prospective donors to balancing your fundraising books, you will need a reliable and trustworthy team by your side. Take the time to carefully vet every role that’s needed and assign the right staff members to the position that best works with their strengths.
  • Budget: The old adage “You have to spend money to make money,” really rings true when it comes to fundraising. From marketing materials to staffing needs, you will have to spend a certain amount of money to fundraise successfully.
    Sit down with your team and craft a strict budget, assigning some money for unforeseen issues. If you come in under budget for the quarter, simply roll those funds over to the next budget.
  • Privacy Guidelines: Many major donors would like to stay anonymous to the public to avoid unwanted solicitations. Make sure your team has solid privacy guidelines in place, so that donors feel comfortable with their contributions.
  • Recruitment Strategies: Ensure your entire team is on the same page as far as how you will reach out to past or current patients to include them in this program. If team members are following different strategies, you may find yourself over-contacting individuals at the risk of destroying a potentially valuable relationship.
  • Wealth Screening Process: It’s important to designate how you would like to conduct wealth screenings, making sure you’re using the right software to potentially maximize gifts.
  • Prospect and Program Management: It’s a good idea to designate one person to be in charge of managing the program you use for uncovering potential donors.

The overall success of your program relies on your day-to-day operations and how committed your staff is. One way to ensure this success is by putting together an in-hospital recruitment team.

Crafting a Recruitment Team

Patient satisfaction should always be a top priority in your hospital. A severe illness or injury can be an uncertain and scary experience, and it’s your staff’s job to create a warm and welcoming environment to ease patient anxieties.

This personability is extra important when it comes to creating a grateful patient program. Happy patients can turn into generous donors. Forging a strong relationship with these donors while they are at your facility leads to a greater chance of them becoming donors down the line.

In some cases, a staff member can preemptively run wealth screenings on patients as they are admitted to the hospital. Patient health is the top priority, so always consider the sensitivity of their treatment before next considering your program. Ensure they are healthy and then send a representative from the hospital to ensure they’re having a pleasant stay.

After the patient leaves your hospital, have the same representative reach out to see how they’re doing. Establishing a personal relationship will make patients more likely to become grateful donors.

It’s important to keep in mind that families are just as important as patients. Have your team perform wealth screenings on immediate family members as well to build out your grateful patient program even further!

Download our ebook Power-Up Your Grateful Patient Program

How to Track Success

We know you’re eager to start fundraising but rushing your grateful patient program can actually lead to poor results. You want to make sure you have controls in place to eliminate error and ensure the operating process goes smoothly.

To make sure you’re staying on track and not rushing through the process, you’ll want to record the following information:

  1. The number of new prospects uncovered vs. how many new donors have been acquired.
  2. The number of patients visiting the hospital vs. the total amount of money donated to the hospital.
  3. The number of donors increasing their annual gifts.
  4. The average time lapse between a patient discharge and their donation.
  5. The amount of repeat donations.
  6. The response rates to your various forms of solicitation.
  7. How often you are thanking your donors and following up.

By tracking these statistics, you’ll gain a clearer picture of how effective your strategies have been. You’ll be able to target what areas need improvement, so you can ensure you’re maximizing your fundraising efforts.

Some other key statistics you will want to calculate include:

  1. Return on Investment (ROI): Divide your net profits by your expenses and then multiply that number by 100. Calculate this number for all your fundraising programs to determine how viable your grateful patient program may be and then compare that to other fundraising efforts.
  2. Cost per Dollar Raised (CPDR): Divide program expenses by your gross income and multiply by 100. You will want this number to stay below 35.

These numbers will also help you keep track of your success and help you identify where you may need to rework your fundraising strategy.

Daily Patient Wealth Screenings

When it comes to building out your grateful patient program, you may be wondering how often to perform wealth screenings for new donors. The answer lies in your hospital’s unique needs, but there are many benefits to conducting wealth screenings every day.

You want to start building your relationship with potential donors right away. By identifying who has the means to support your cause soon after they walk through your doors, you can start cultivating that relationship in its extremely valuable early stages.

Additionally, it’s been shown that people are more likely to support causes they can link a friendly face to. By meeting making a great impression with a potential donor while they are still at your hospital, you will increase your likelihood of receiving a major donation.

Watch our Elevate Your Grateful Patient Program webinar

How to Start a Grateful Patient Program

Beginning a grateful patient program may seem like a huge undertaking, but it can easily be broken down into the following actionable steps!

Step One: Prepare

Before launching your program, you’ll want to determine who your staff consists of and set a firm and accurate budget. Plans should also be established for additional gift officers and advancement services staff who will aid in your growth. Your budget needs to take into account daily patient wealth screenings as well as marketing and human resource expenses.

When determining these factors, you’ll need to ask the following questions:

  • How many gift officers will be needed for the program?
  • Should gift officers only be major gift officers? Should they focus solely on major donations or can annual giving benefit your organization as well?
  • Will importing patient information overwhelm the advancement services team?

Grateful Patient Program Compliance

In addition to asking these questions, it’s important you review all applicable federal, state, and local laws regarding patient privacy. Your hospital’s own policy may have some important rules to consider. When researching the laws, you will want to answer the following questions:

  • What are the privacy laws your institution is required to follow, and how can you best adhere to them?
  • What are your institution’s policies regarding patient privacy, and what safeguards can you build into your program to ensure them?
  • Who in your foundation’s office will have access to patient information, and what documents will they need to sign?

Key Executive Decisions

A successful program requires strong collaboration between various sectors within the hospital. Of course, it all starts at the top. These executive considerations will ensure you achieve all your goals:

  • What hospital division will be affected by a grateful patient program?
  • What can the staff do to make the rollout of the program a success?
  • Who will support the program, and who can convince others of its importance?

Working with Hospital Staff

The medical staff needs to be completely on board as well. Through their support, you’ll be able to put together a program that’s a success for the entire hospital. When meeting with these members to get them on the same page, you’ll want to inquire about:

  • Which members of the medical staff would be willing to serve as the foundation ambassadors?
  • How can positive patient stories be utilized in marketing materials?
  • How can you minimize the impact of the grateful patient program on the medical staff?

Step Two: Perform Wealth Screenings and Validate Prospects

Before determining how you’ll screen for prospective donors, you’ll want to figure out how often you plan on performing these wealth screenings. As mentioned before, performing a wealth screening daily has numerous benefits. However, if you’re a smaller healthcare organization or a specialty hospital seeing limited new patients, then weekly or even monthly wealth screenings may work as well.

Then, you’ll need to divvy up your efforts between in-person meetings, mail, and phone solicitations. You want to ensure your team is making the most of their time and resources, so be judicious in planning in-person meetings.

Grateful Patient Identifiers

When performing your wealth screenings, consider the following aspects:

  1. Past philanthropy—to like-minded organizations or even your own hospital
    • Corporate and nonprofit involvement
  2. Real estate ownership
  3. Stock transactions
  4. Donor’s spousal information
  5. Luxury asset ownership

To save time, you’ll want to invest in wealth screening software that can scan for these wealth indicators for you and provide a clear depiction of how likely a potential donor is to support your hospital.

Maximizing Grateful Patient Donations

After receiving your wealth screening results, you’ll want to prepare a report. This report will then go out to gift officers who will decide how to approach the patients. Whether you’re meeting in person or reaching out after they return home, you won’t want to wait more than three months to contact a potential donor.

Additionally, make sure you’re reaching out to those with high philanthropic indicators who have not been meeting their full giving potential. Answer the following questions before taking time to contact them:

  • Have they been approached correctly in the past?
  • Has the cause for their lack of support been identified?
  • Have they been shown the value of their donations?

By answering these questions, you’re ensuring your team receives a maximum donation that can support your hospital for years to come.

Step Three: Manage Prospects

After identifying the right supporters for your hospital, you’ll want to stay organized to guarantee you’re on target to meet your goals. 

  • Track proposals in a donor database: Create a proposal for each prospect and assign them a gift officer. Each proposal should include the ask amount, the anticipated gift date, and the fund or purpose of the gift. Proposals should be updated throughout each stage of solicitation, reach, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship step.
  • File contact reports: All correspondence and interactions with prospects should be reported to your donor database. Development officers will handle the reporting of these contacts.
  • Conduct frequent prospect management meetings: Front-line fundraisers and the advancement services staff should be meeting to ensure prospects are moving through the solicitation pipeline. In these meetings, gift officers should report the need for further research and prospect researchers can present new prospects to guarantee your hospital continues to grow.

By following these steps, you can accurately measure the effectiveness of your grateful patient program!

Grateful Patient Program Best Practices

Fundraising should be fun and interesting, but there are also strict rules you need to adhere to if you intend to reach your hospital’s goals. The following are some of the best practices to follow when it comes to crafting and maintaining a grateful patient program:

  1. Establish Major Gift Officers

Your major gift officers are assigned to help you answer some of the tough questions such as:

  • Why does a prospect provide small philanthropic gifts despite a larger capacity to give?
  • Has a prospect been correctly approached about making a contribution?
  • Has a prosect found the right cause to support?
  • Has a prospect been shown the value of a donation?

Split up your patients based on what works best for your specific organization. You might also prioritize certain donors to the gift officers who can cultivate the best prospects. These donors may be:

  • Patients who are already major donors
  • Patients who could be more philanthropic than they currently are
  • Patients with the ability to give who have not yet supported a cause

Fundraising requires a lot of patience but finding the right team members can make the whole process easier.

  1. Draft a Solicitation Plan

Whether it’s a personalized letter or email or a personal visit with a prospect, it takes personality and teamwork to cultivate a donor. No matter how hard you work though, fundraising can still be unpredictable.

One of the ways you can combat bumps in the road is by establishing a clear solicitation process which includes the following steps:

  • Thank donors for their past support and encourage them to continue to donate.
  • Schedule personal meetings with prospects following discharge to check up on their health. Do not solicit them during this time.
  • Send a letter or give a phone call from the hospital’s CEO to check in on the patient and start the discussion about donation.
  • Invite prospects to social and online events.
  • Send regular emails to continue grabbing the attention of donors in meaningful ways.

Solicitation doesn’t start once your patient leaves your hospital. Make sure you and your team are establishing a solid solicitation plan that begins with cultivating a strong relationship while they are still in your hospital.

  1. Remember Your Prospects are Patients First and Foremost

We know you’re eager to grow your hospital’s programs and start fundraising for your organization’s future. However, don’t lose sight of the here and now. Always prioritize your patients as regular people in need and put their healthcare first.

  1. Put Together an Integrated Team

We’ve mentioned before how important a strong team is to a grateful patient program—something we cannot stress enough. If your team is organized and ready for any issue that may arise, then you can feel confident your program will run smoothly.

  1. Maintain Patient Privacy

Again, this point is very important. This also goes along with prioritizing prospects as patients. Make sure information remains secret and does not violate any local, national, or hospital laws.

Since your donors are past patients, then HIPPA guidelines will come into play.

Make sure your team is well versed in HIPPA guidelines and restrictions and that you’re choosing fundraising software that follows these regulations as well. There are a couple other patient privacy programs out there that vary by where your organization is located, so you’ll want to follow those regional guidelines as well.

Also check out our Grateful Patient 101 Blog Post

The Success of Grateful Patient Programs Hinges on Security

With the growing prevalence of hacking across the healthcare industry, client security is more of a necessity than ever.

iWave is HIPPA compliant and stays up to date with CCPA guidelines, so you know your donors’ privacy will be maintained—a crucial component to a successful grateful patient program. One aspect of iWave we have always been proud of is our ability to listen to and work side by side with our clients.

We’ve incorporated multi-factor authentication into our software as well as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). We transfer files through SFTPs as opposed to general uploads, allowing for a higher level of security. Additionally, SFTPs increase the level of automation. Automatic file transfers and pulls mean less people are touching privileged information.

Plan Your Grateful Patient Program Today!

If you think your hospital can benefit from a grateful patient program, then contact our team at iWave today. We offer a responsive fundraising resource built on billions of datapoints designed to help you uncover the right supporters for your hospital.

If your organization is thinking about launching a grateful patient program, then contact us to learn more about how we can help you get started. New to iWave? Reach out to our team and we’ll set up a free demo or conduct a fundraising assessment to show you how our software can be personalized to your organization’s specific needs.

Written by Admin

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