Most healthcare fundraising is measured in dollars raised with the emphasis is on major gifts. Fundraisers and prospect researchers are trained to look for wealth and other financial indicators to drive their strategy and outreach. In fact, almost all prospect research tools available to fundraisers focus on wealth indicators and are designed for driving major gifts. Given the number of patients seen by hospitals, this approach is a way to limit prospecting scope to cap the cost of outreach. The assumption is that those not meeting certain financial levels will not give at levels to support the cost to prospect. 

I believe this creates a gap in healthcare fundraising. There are patients that will help but are not included in a foundation’s outreach due to this focus on wealth and driving major gifts. This thought supports our last two surveys of discharged patients showing that most are not aware of the work and existence of their local hospital foundation. Also, I believe this “rich only” approach leaves many feeling that their donation might not be significant enough which will then lead to apathy for some in your community and donating to other causes that are more accepting of smaller donations.

I recently analyzed hospital foundation giving patterns using a sample of 5,000 donors that gave amounts ranging from $5 to over $1,000,000 over a 10-year period. The results tell an interesting long-term story about hospital donor patterns:

  • 73% of the money raised over 10 years came from those with wealth indicators of less than $1,000,000
  • The sweet spot for donations identified those with wealth indicators between $100,000 and $750,000
  • The top donations for those flagged by wealth indicators between $100,000 and $750,000 donated less than $5,000

One of the concerns we hear about screening patient data is the overall cost to conduct outreach to larger prospect pools. However, here is the reality from a typical patient census of 10,000 records:

  • 16% of those inclined to give have wealth indicators of $1,000,000 or less
  • 2% of those prospects have wealth indicators greater than $1,000,000 and are inclined to give
  • Of the prospects with wealth indicators of $1,000,000 or less and with an inclination to give, much of that prospect data shows an opportunity with electronic outreach.

What does this mean for hospital foundations?  

  • Embrace an approach to expand your outreach beyond wealth to help fill the gaps in your fundraising strategy.
  • Look for all patients with an inclination to give, affinity for your cause and are engaged with your cause. 
  • Include messaging to more patients outside of high wealth that shows your commitment to the community and recognizes their involvement and how they can help.
  • Let all stakeholders know that their donation is important and the real basis of your foundation

There are many in your community that want to be a part of your mission for better healthcare. Don’t forget about those not flagged as wealthy and engage other prospects such as mid-level givers. Big cardboard checks are cool, but don’t lose sight of those who can help fill the gaps in your fundraising.

About Brightway Data: 

Brightway provides hospital foundations with a purpose-built predictive modeling that helps identify more prospects trapped in patient census data using HIPAA compliant-screening tools.