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May 25, 2017

How Technology Can Improve Your Referral-Based Philanthropy Program

How Technology Can Improve Your Referral-Based Philanthropy Program


by Steve Beshuk, Vice President of Benefactor Group

As a nonprofit consulting firm, Benefactor Group helps nonprofits use technology and other resources to achieve their missions. In our work with hospitals, the topic of “grateful patient and family programs” often comes up. Depending on how much experience the hospital has with a program like this, the questions can vary, but generally include the following:


  • How do we get the data from the hospital system?
  • Should we screen it? How does that work?
  • Should we put the data in The Raiser’s Edge®? If so, how? If not, where does it go?
  • How should we identify and/or segment the prospects?
  • How should we solicit them?
  • And how do we report on all of it?

Benefactor Group loves data and technology and helping our clients answer these questions. However, recently, our perspective expanded when we attended a public workshop presented by Advancement Resources called The Art and Science of Healthcare Philanthropy.


In the workshop, we learned what it takes to realize a successful “grateful patient and family program”—although, a more accurate description would be “referral-based philanthropy program,” because the greatest philanthropic opportunity lies in those patients and family members who are referred to development by medical professionals.


The workshop didn’t focus on systems or data segmentation or imports/exports. Of course, those things are important, but they are a means to realize a larger objective. We learned how important it is to truly understand medical professionals so that development staff can build trust-based, professional relationships with them that result in free-flowing philanthropic referrals.


We heard patients and families share compelling stories, both positive and negative. It was fascinating to realize that it is not just gratitude that motivates meaningful giving. Donors are also motivated by negative experiences or the desire to help improve healthcare experiences for others. It was a moving and edifying learning experience for us.


While a referral-based philanthropy program certainly requires solid operations and technology, the workshop highlighted how important the execution and follow-through are to make the program work and to honor the special relationships that develop in a hospital setting.


This is what led Benefactor Group and Advancement Resources to partner on a whitepaper that shares guidelines and best practices to make a referral-based philanthropy program work in your organization.


In short, while it doesn’t have to be complicated, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Here are three key takeaways to consider when you’re building or improving your program. See the whitepaper for these details and more.


  1. It takes a team. From hospital IT to the physicians and the fundraisers, everyone needs to be engaged and in communication.

  2. You need a conductor. A single person should be accountable for the program.

  3. You need to measure and monitor. You can’t manage a program unless you have a quantifiable view of what is happening.

With the right components—a fully prepared development operation, engaged medical professionals, and a system to support it all—the opportunity for significant and meaningful healthcare philanthropy can be enormous.






About Benefactor Group

Benefactor Group serves organizations that serve the common good…through capital campaigns, strategic planning, and nonprofit technology. Given a clear strategy and practical tools, you can raise more money today and build your capacity to sustain your mission into the future.


Benefactor Group has won a reputation for innovative nonprofit consulting services that support fundraising, philanthropy, volunteer leadership, leadership development, technology, talent management, and executive transition. Our staff brings extensive fundraising experience to our clients and a broad range of individual skills to each project.



Other posts you might be interested in:


Can I Accept This?—Ethical Dilemmas in Medical Development

“Can I Accept This?” Ethical Dilemmas in Medical Development

Physicians' Referral Expectations – a Q&A with Dr. Javier Sevilla

Physicians’ Referral Expectations—a Q&A with Dr. Javier Sevilla-Martir

Measuring Physician Referrals: An Essential Component of Care

Measuring Physician Referrals: An Essential Component of Care



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