7 Key Steps For Championing Your Grateful Patient Program

A grateful patient program can help hospitals enhance treatment services with generous donations. Fashion your own rockstar program with these seven steps.

One of the most rewarding perks of working at a healthcare facility are the meaningful relationships your staff forms with patients. As such, it’s only natural for patients to seek an outlet for expressing their thanks after receiving life-changing treatment.

Luckily, that’s where grateful patient programs come in! This top healthcare fundraising strategy allows patients or their families to honor your hospital’s staff, an area of care, or clinical program with a generous donation.

However, the best part about grateful patient programs is that donors are able to make a tangible contribution that directly impacts the quality of your patient care, such as by giving funds for a cancer research program or a new MRI machine.

That’s why we’ve got your back by outlining seven essential steps for supercharging your grateful patient program:

  1. Gain support for your grateful patient program.
  2. Create grateful patient protocol for your hospital.
  3. Provide access to grateful patient materials.
  4. Screen prospects for your grateful patient program.
  5. Emphasize patient well-being in your grateful patient program.
  6. Open the door to healthcare fundraising matching gifts.
  7. Track your grateful patient program’s progress.

So take a moment to read along and if you like what you find, spread the word with the rest of your healthcare fundraising team!


Get support from hospital administration, board members, and your CEO to help make your grateful patient program a success.

1. Gain Support for Your Grateful Patient Program

If you’re just as jazzed about grateful patient programs as we are, then your first step is to get more influential hospital staff on board.

With the support of your hospital administration, board members, and CEO, your healthcare fundraising team can form a group alliance to help plan, manage, and promote a successful grateful patient program.

For instance, your hospital administration and board can lend support for advancing healthcare fundraising initiatives associated with your grateful patient program.

Likewise, major and planned gift officers can conduct prospect research, organize donor data, and cultivate lasting donor healthcare bonds.

Once the program has support from higher-up authorities, your hospital can then rally together doctors and nurses to act as ambassadors for the grateful patient program.

Understandably, doctors and nurses may be uncomfortable with directly soliciting gifts from patients or families.

To help ease the burden, encourage your physicians to only provide information about your grateful patient program to those who express a specific interest in giving back to your hospital.

Final thought: Like all of your hospital’s efforts, running an amazing grateful patient program will require the unique talents and support of your entire hospital team.

Address potential challenges with your grateful patient program by setting protocols in place.

2. Create Grateful Patient Protocol for Your Hospital

As mentioned earlier, physicians may (and should) express concerns about fundraising interfering with patient treatment.

To ensure a smooth implementation of a grateful patient program, your fundraising team must address potential challenges early and often by establishing policies that reflect:

  • Compliance with HIPAA guidelines and dedication to protecting patient privacy (see section 5).
  • A set of protocols to establish when and how major gift officers or other fundraisers may approach a patient.
  • A set of protocols to establish when and how physicians and staff can advocate for the grateful patient program.
  • A clear, open line of communication for physicians and staff to address concerns.

By acknowledging these factors in your grateful patient program, you can foster an environment where hospital staff and fundraisers treat contributors as patients first and donors second.

Final thought: Enforce guidelines that resolve more delicate issues associated with your grateful patient program to set hospital staff and fundraisers’ minds at ease.

Create materials to promote your grateful patient program for patients to have access to.

3. Provide Access to Grateful Patient Materials

In an ideal situation, a patient will express their desire to give back to your hospital without provocation. However, in reality many patients may feel this way without vocalizing their gratitude to the right people.

To shed light on your giving initiatives, your healthcare fundraising team should create grateful patient materials easily accessible in the form of:

  • A dedicated page on your hospital’s website.
  • Easy-to-grab materials, like brochures or pamphlets, to be placed in the hospital.

Doctors and nurses should be aware of where these materials are so they can provide them to patients in a flash.

To make the giving process that much easier, your hospital should also look into incorporating effective online donation tools for patients to utilize for making contributions.

These virtual giving tools can provide donors with a fast and convenient way to support your grateful patient program with capabilities like:

  • Fast processing of gifts and donation receipts
  • Recurring giving options
  • A matching gift search tool
  • Specific donor data collection
  • Integrated merchandise sales for fundraising events

Don’t forget to research online giving tools that already integrate with your existing nonprofit CRM or fundraising software to create less work ahead of time.

Final thought: Grateful patient materials, especially online donation tools, can efficiently educate patients on your giving options and procedures.

Use prospect research tools to narrow down top prospects for your grateful patient program.

4. Screen Prospects for Your Grateful Patient Program

It’s no secret that hospitals that can target donors with the highest giving potential are more likely to see a return on their investment.

That’s why it’s imperative for your healthcare facility to take full advantage of prospect research resources to increase your flow of grateful patient donations.

Screening patients can help hospitals identify constituents who have the affinity and the ability to give a significant donation.

Typically, there are three strategies hospitals rely on to incorporate prospect research into grateful patient programs:

  • Daily patient screenings — This method allows your healthcare fundraising team to monitor current and discharged patients by analyzing giving abilities.
  • Prospect screening services — You can utilize services like wealth or bulk screenings through prospect research consultants or screening companies to filter through donor data.
  • In-house research team — These professionals are enlisted by your hospital for the sole purpose of performing prospect research screenings.

Once your hospital’s fundraising team has narrowed down key prospects, you can then craft targeted communications to peak their interests in your grateful patient program.

Not sure where to begin with prospect research? Look no further than our top 10 roundup of the best prospect research tools for nonprofits (and healthcare facilities).

Final thought: Screening patients early on can help your healthcare fundraising team create custom solicitation strategies that attract high-value grateful patient donors.

Treat contributors to your grateful patient program as patients first and donors second.

5. Emphasize Patient Well-Being in Your Grateful Patient Program

Without question, your medical institution’s highest priority should be treating patients; in other words, a grateful patient program will always come second. Hospitals can be stressful places, even for patients who receive the best possible care and leave with great results.

That’s why in your grateful patient communications, your healthcare facility should always remain conscientious of these factors by:

  • Respecting patient privacy.
  • Aligning donation opportunities with expressed interests.
  • Seeking organic opportunities to reach out to prospects. For example, if a physician is being recognized at your hospital, the physician’s former patients would be prime prospects for contributing in the physician’s honor.
  • Creating a strict solicitation timeline. Follow-up materials should only be sent after a patient has been discharged. Each hospital can determine when the first communication should be sent.

To help personalize your grateful patient outreach, invest in a top-notch marketing software to share donation opportunities that are most valuable to specific patients.

Incorporate your prospect research data to note which communication channels a patient prefers, whether it be email, newsletter, social media, or otherwise. You can also use analytical reporting in your marketing software to observe which outreach techniques are performing better than others.

That being said, the best way to honor patient well-being during healthcare fundraising is to adhere to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

A legal measure, HIPAA guarantees patient protection for confidential medical information against use in a hospital’s healthcare fundraising or promotions.

While there are a number of protected health information (PHI) that your hospital is free to use without a patient’s consent, remember to take special care when requesting the following HIPAA-defended items:

  • Diagnosis
  • Nature of service
  • Medical treatment

It’s also a good idea to have a plan in place for when a patient withdraws their permission to use their medical records in a previous agreement with your hospital.

Final thought: Tailor your donor outreach and respect HIPAA policies to ensure your grateful patient program takes a backseat to a patient’s protection and recovery.

Encourage donors in your grateful patient program to utilize matching gifts.

6. Open the Door to Healthcare Fundraising Matching Gifts

Implementing a stellar grateful patient program is an accomplishment all on it’s own; but did you know there’s a way for your hospital to maximize those funds?

The answer lies in the brilliance of embracing matching gifts into your healthcare facility’s fundraising strategy.

Matching gifts allow your grateful patients to utilize their employer’s matching gift program and have them double their contribution to your hospital!

What’s more is that your medical institution can easily set up and promote this donation goldmine: all it takes is for you to incorporate a matching gift search tool into your grateful patient donation process.

The best way to go about doing this is by including a matching gift search tool into your grateful patient online donation form. That way, patients in the middle of making a donation can go one step further by searching for their employer’s matching gift program without having to navigate away from the tool.

In addition, your hospital can showcase a matching gift search tool right on your website like Mercy Corps so adequately did:

MercyCorps showcases a matching gift tool on their website to double grateful patient program donations.

As you can see, their matching gift search tool is prominently displayed and simple for members of your healthcare fundraising team to direct grateful patients too.

On the other hand, you can always make the most of paper matching gift request forms for your less tech-savvy donors.

Final thought: Paper or electronic, it doesn’t matter which matching gift alternative you support; so long as your grateful patients are aware of this fabulous opportunity.

Track the progress of your grateful patient program by analyzing metrics and donation practices.

7. Track Your Grateful Patient Program’s Progress

Last but not least, the success of your grateful patient program all comes back to how you monitor it’s progress and tweak the system to more accurately reflect your hospital’s needs.

Medical institutions should establish clear goals and criteria for how their grateful patient program should develop based on metrics like:

  • ROI
  • Retention Rate
  • Average gift size

On top of metrics, your healthcare fundraising team can evaluate success more easily if you keep track of:

  • How long it takes to convert a prospect to a grateful patient donor.
  • The response rates to different grateful patient communications.
  • The response quality to different grateful patient stewardship techniques.

To maintain a better grip on all of these influential factors, there are plenty of free or low-cost nonprofit CRM software out there for your hospital to explore. In the long run, this core technology will save your healthcare fundraising team a lot of stress while managing your grateful patient program’s growth.

Final thought: Make time to periodically check your grateful patient program’s progress by analyzing metrics and donation practices.


The bond between patients and healthcare staff is like no other; it requires hard work, respect, and communication to get to the heart of someone’s discomfort as painlessly as possible. Encourage your patients to help others receive the same exceptional care by making a personal donation to your grateful patient program.

For more must-know tips on how to boost your healthcare fundraising, feel free to browse our additional resources:

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