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:

5 Healthcare Fundraising Strategies To Skyrocket Donations

Healthcare fundraising is essential for securing staffing, equipment, and facility upgrades. Exceed your donation goals with these foolproof strategies.

Your healthcare facility works hard to give your community of patients the best care possible, so it’s only fair that you get some of that love and devotion in return — with fundraising!

Healthcare fundraising is instrumental for securing the necessary staffing, equipment, and facility renovations your organization needs to function at maximum capacity.

However, many hospital fundraising teams are, in the dark on how best to rally their supporters and jumpstart a steady flow of donations.

We know how busy your schedules are, so we’ll make this brief: below you’ll find the top five ultimate fundraising strategies that no medical institution can do without!

Let’s take a peek at what’s to come:

  1. Engage healthcare fundraising with corporate philanthropy.
  2. Develop a top grateful patients program for healthcare fundraising.
  3. Host healthcare fundraising meetings about your hospital foundation.
  4. Send targeted healthcare fundraising communications.
  5. Create (and market!) a stellar healthcare fundraising online donation form.

These essential fundraising tactics can save your healthcare facility time, energy, and money so that you can get back to doing what you do best: saving lives!

So take a breather from your daily duties and follow along with us; we promise to make it well worth your while!

Boost your healthcare fundraising by partnering with corporations known for philanthropic work.

1. Engage Healthcare Fundraising With Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy has been trending like crazy in recent years, not only to benefit healthcare, nonprofit, education, and other fundraising fields, but also to stir up positive publicity and employee engagement within active companies.

That’s why to get a leg up in your healthcare fundraising feats, it’s always smart to seek a partnership with corporations known for their philanthropic history and variety of giving initiatives.

For healthcare organizations in particular, corporations can give you philanthropic support by:

  • Sponsoring a healthcare-related fundraising event.
  • Promoting their brand on your healthcare fundraising event merchandise.
  • Investing in a capital campaign to raise money for specific hospital needs like new MRI machines or a hiring budget for more nursing staff.
  • In addition, the whole point behind cause marketing is to encourage mutually-beneficial relationships between corporations and fundraising organizations.

For example, the ever-popular Red Nose Day charity collaboration with Walgreens has raised millions of funds to support children in poverty throughout the United States.

On the other hand, if you’d rather team up with a tight-knit community, you can always take inspiration from campaigns like Face of Diabetes which implemented DipJar’s giving kiosks in local Alabama retail stores to encourage credit card donations.

When approaching a corporation for philanthropic support, remember to sell them on a specific cause that’s easier to brand and publicize as well as has a personal connection with the business.

For instance, a company could screen their employees to see if a large percentage of them are affected by a particular health concern or take an employee poll on a medical cause they would be most interested in supporting.

Essentially, the more you frame your pitch to highlight the corporate benefits of your fundraising partnership, the faster you’ll have them on board and committed.

Treat yourself to more phenomenal cause marketing campaigns with our exclusive roundup guaranteed to inspire your healthcare fundraising.

The bottom line: Corporate philanthropy provides an excellent opportunity for you to raise healthcare publicity and funds while shining a positive light on prominent businesses.

Grateful patient programs allow patients to show their gratitude by donating towards healthcare fundraising.

2. Develop a Top Grateful Patients Program for Healthcare Fundraising

Although many hospitals already solicit donations from grateful patients, organizing a program around that specific purpose can do wonders for your healthcare fundraising and donor stewardship.

Grateful patient programs also give patients the opportunity to express their thanks to a physician or facility that played a meaningful role in their treatment.

Not to mention, grateful patient programs can bolster your hospital’s reputation for patient care and attention which in turn can lead to more major donations.

For example, the JFK Medical Center offers an exemplary grateful patient program that allows patients and their families to honor hospital staff, an area of care, or a clinical program with a financial contribution.

In addition, the Boston Children’s Hospital encourages families to honor loved ones with memorial and planned giving opportunities.

While assembling your grateful patient program, consider your answers to the following questions to ensure yours is a success:

  • How will your program be managed? — Develop your program’s prospect research and solicitation pipeline and arrange frequent check-ins with your team members.
  • Who are your grateful patient program team members? — Recruit an integrated healthcare staff including: doctors, nurses, hospital administration, and a development committee with major and planned giving officers.
  • What are your budgetary concerns? — Map out areas of your program that may require more financial need than others.
  • How will you screen prospects and organize donor data? — Invest in top data management software and conduct daily patient screenings to analyze giving factors.
  • What are your recruitment strategies? — Get to know individual patients and work out a personalized solicitation game plan for current and discharged prospects.

Finally, remember to treat your patients as people first and donors second by respecting their healthcare information privacy.

Handle your solicitations with tact by consulting the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines for getting a patient’s written consent on using their medical data for fundraising or promotional purposes.

For more information on how to launch an influential grateful patient program, master our seven key steps for success!

The bottom line: Curating a powerful grateful patient program can help your hospital efficiently manage prospects and boost healthcare donations.

Support your hospital foundations healthcare fundraising by educating staff and prospects about it.

3. Host Healthcare Fundraising Meetings About Your Hospital Foundation

It’s no secret that when it comes to healthcare fundraising, hospital foundations are essentially your medical institution’s advocates, go-getters, and best friends all rolled into one.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the role of a hospital foundation, these nonprofits act independently to generate funds and awareness for local hospital needs. As an isolated entity, these organizations usually have their own fundraising agenda and board of directors separate from the medical facilities they assist.

To give you a better frame of reference, some of the primary duties of a hospital foundation include:

  • Overseeing healthcare donations and hospital endowments.
  • Organizing annual or capital campaigns for general or specific projects.
  • Hosting fundraising events and activities on behalf of a hospital.
  • Providing educational scholarships to up-and-coming healthcare professionals.

Unfortunately, many healthcare patients, donors, and staff are unaware of all the good deeds these important allies perform behind the scenes.

That’s why it’s your obligation as part of your fundraising strategy to give your hospital foundation a hand by hosting informative meetings to showcase their brilliant goals and efforts.

With these meetings or luncheons, your hospital can clarify fundraising options and meet face-to-face with interested prospects. In return, prospects learn more about how to channel their gratitude toward medical programs they’re most passionate about.

From these interactions, hospitals can also determine areas of interest for constructing effective fundraising campaigns or events like charity auctions that address specific healthcare concerns.

The bottom line: Highlight the fundraising efforts of your affiliated hospital foundation with regular, informative donor and prospect meetings.

Tailor your healthcare fundraising strategies by segmenting your donor data.

4. Send Targeted Healthcare Fundraising Communications

Once your medical institution lands a generous donation, you can sever all ties with the donor in question right? The correct answer is “no” but sadly this is often the case for healthcare fundraising teams that fail to prioritize donor stewardship.

That’s why one critical fundraising practice for medical facilities (and all organizations) is to grow prospect and donor relationships by initiating personal healthcare communications.

These exchanges can be a lot easier if your fundraising team segments donors first in your donor management software in order to send only the most valuable information to your loyal supporters.

For example, donors should receive frequent updates on how their gifts have been used to help staff and patients, while prospects should receive news about giving to programs that match their areas of interest (think: a former cancer patient may be particularly interested in supporting a fundraiser for the cancer ward).

Furthermore, former patients should also be informed when their physicians or medical team are honored for fundraising contributions online or at events.

With a variety of digital communications at your fingertips, we aren’t really concerned with which method you choose to reach out to donors. Instead, your main focus should be on connecting donors with your fundraising efforts and, more importantly, emphasizing their value to your organization.

Get the most out of your donor communications by keeping these top tips in mind:

  • Share your healthcare facility’s story or highlight inspiring physician or patient stories.
  • Utilize emotional and eye-catching visual media like photos, videos, and infographics.
  • Provide examples of how a donor’s support directly influenced your healthcare fundraising.
  • Make donors feel a part of something bigger by casting a long-term healthcare fundraising vision.
  • Thank donors as valued members of your team with unique and targeted gestures.
  • Encourage donors to reach out to you with questions or concerns about donating time or funds.

Once again however, take extra care in ensuring all of your healthcare fundraising communications are HIPAA compliant.

The bottom line: Strengthen donor relationships by personalizing your healthcare fundraising updates and endeavors in your direct communications.

Promote healthcare fundraising matching gifts on your online donation forms.

5. Create (and Market!) a Stellar Healthcare Fundraising Online Donation Form

When was the last time your healthcare institution revamped its online donation form? Whether or not it’s been a while, it’s imperative that you understand how much this tool can make or break your healthcare fundraising.

Why Online Donation Forms are Valuable for Fundraising

For starters, online donation forms accomplish a variety of tasks that make your healthcare fundraising efforts outrageously easier like:

  • Reaching a wider audience by offering an accessible and shareable donation option.
  • Collecting donor data to document preferred giving means and average gift amounts.
  • Tracking fundraising results to assess your virtual outreach and completed donations.

In addition, your online donation form can be key to accepting annual fund gifts or capital campaign gifts via a fundraising webpage.

How to Design a Donor-Ready Online Donation Form

When crafting an outstanding online donation form, it’s best to keep the design details as simple as possible to better attract and retain donors such as:

  • Sticking to one page with minimal (yet effective) branding.
  • Limiting the number of steps it takes to complete the form.
  • Optimizing your online donation form for mobile or tablet use.
  • Providing suggested giving amounts to accelerate the process.
  • Allowing donors to share their gifts on social media platforms.

A busy or unresponsive layout can easily deter donors from following through with an online donation. By offering an easy-to-navigate platform and more giving options to fit individual needs, your healthcare institution can make online giving an easy and rewarding donor experience.

How to Attract Corporate Philanthropy With Your Online Donation Form

Once you have a winning design, your healthcare facility can then embed the online donation form into foundation materials like digital brochures, e-newsletters, emails, and more with the URL link.

Better yet, you can even use your online donation form to bring in corporate philanthropy by including a matching gift search tool!

If your healthcare fundraising team is unfamiliar with how to use a matching gift search tool for online donations, don’t sweat it! Simply follow along as we detail the steps for utilizing Double the Donation’s matching gift widget with Mercy Corps:

1. Enter the name of your company employer.

Enter the name of your company employer to discover matching gift opportunities for healthcare fundraising.

Start by searching for your employer to discover whether or not they have a matching gift program in place.

2. If your company is listed, follow the instructions for starting the matching gift process via your online donation form.

Follow your employer's matching gift program instructions to donate towards healthcare fundraising.

Discover your company’s matching gift ratio, types of organizations they assist, and which employees are eligible to participate. You can also review submission deadlines.

3. Click the link to your company’s matching gift request form.

Click the link to your employer's online matching gift form to make a healthcare fundraising donation.

You may have to create an account before you’re allowed to proceed with your virtual matching gift request.

Create a matching gift account with your employer to begin your healthcare fundraising donation.

The bottom line: Make the most of your online donation form with a killer design and matching gift search tool to provide donors the luxury of multiple giving options to your medical institution.


There’s no doubt that healthcare fundraising is a group effort that requires a lot of sweat, creativity, and grit — but with the right fundraising strategy up your sleeve, it can also be fun and rewarding for both your hospital and donors.

Have a blast with your healthcare fundraising by aiming for even bigger donation goals with these powerful tactics!

For more game-changing resources on healthcare fundraising, dive into our additional resources: