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Align Your Grateful Patient Program Within the COVID-19 Environment

Over the last seven months, the healthcare environment has been rapidly advancing to keep pace with the evolving science surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic. How are healthcare philanthropy departments adapting their grateful patient programs to meet the growing needs?

Here are some tips for aligning your grateful patient program within the restrictive operating environment of COVID-19.

  1. Although the healthcare environment has changed dramatically, the most effective course of action embraces the principles of grateful patient fundraising with added flexibility and creativity.

a. A patient’s gratitude remains highest within a month of discharge. Appeals

sent within a 30-day timeframe continue to be the most effective. Research

indicates patients are twice as likely to donate within a month of leaving the


b. Caregivers remain the most trustworthy individuals in any healthcare setting.

Leverage creditability by quoting or engaging them as the author and

signatory of your appeal to build a partnership.

i. Consider a physician and grateful patient combination by quoting one of

these individuals within the appeal and asking the other to serve as the


ii. Consider hosting a community thank-a-thon via social media by asking

patients to post a 1-2-minute video and offering a text-to-give option.

iii. Partner with clinical colleagues on video calls, cultivations, and


c. Rounding by executives and development professionals yields the best

results. In collaboration with your legal department, patient safety experts,

caregivers, and physicians, develop creative ways to re-imagine rounding

that will adhere to protocols and be welcomed in today’s environment.

i. Electronic communication and a sincere invitation to schedule a virtual

visit demonstrate care and innovation to patients. Rotating the

responsibility between executives and development should be strategic

and aligned with giving history and capacity. Working within the

protocols of Covid-19 and HIPAA, your efforts will be especially


2. Prioritize millennials and family members with capacity, rather than aging boomers who

have proven to be less responsive to grateful patient appeals. Streamline the parameters

of your research to prioritize these constituencies, reduce overhead, and increase


3. Explore opportunities to reduce patient stress by strengthening the connection between

medical patients and holistic approaches to healthcare like music therapy, meditation,

yoga, stretching, pastoral and spiritual care. These added services increase patient

gratitude and likelihood to give.

4. Gratitude to healthcare’s essential workers remains high. Continue to celebrate

caregivers collectively and individually by telling their stories of commitment and

sacrifice. Make gratitude viral.

a. Share Covid-19 grateful patient stories creatively to increase awareness and

encourage recognition of medical professionals and frontline workers.

b. Display photos of caregivers in action on your website and in marketing

collateral. Photos of grateful patients (who give consent) and caregivers are


c. Encourage patients and caregivers to convey gratitude and respond to gifts

on YouTube. The more unscripted and spontaneous, the more sincere and

moving your appreciation will be to the patient or family member!

*Adapted from Accordant Philanthropy

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