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Forest Trees

Grateful Engagement the Accordant Way

Accordant’s comprehensive approach to grateful engagement and clinician partnership focuses on six pillars and ensures integration with every aspect of the development organization’s existing philanthropy program. Our comprehensive and agile framework enables a strategic, focused effort aligned with the strategic vision of the health care organization and is tailored to support your unique issues and opportunities.

Distinctively Different

For 15 years, health care philanthropy organizations have relied on tactics like wealth screening, gratitude training programs and letter writing to advance grateful patient and clinician engagement strategies with varying results. Accordant’s approach to grateful engagement is distinctively different.  


Customized strategy that is created based on the organization’s unique culture, resources, ambition and integrated with the existing philanthropy program and practices 


Holistic, integrity-based approach rooted in gratitude and purpose that encourages physician and clinician partners to focus on gratitude first


Purposeful focus on culture through the integration of strategic communications and gratitude branded communications and collateral to enhance story capturing  and recognition opportunities to support building a widespread organizational culture of gratitude


Builds robust, trusting, mutually-beneficial partnerships with physicians and clinicians that enable enhanced clinician-driven participation based on passion and purpose 


One-on-one and small group training sessions tailored to meet the organization’s needs with huge emphasis on what happens once the training is complete 


Creation and adoption of a replicable model that is ultimately owned and driven by a well-prepared philanthropy team, not the consultant, in order to achieve sustainability 

Grateful Engagement & Clinician Partnerships

Grateful giving is a purpose-filled and powerful way for grateful patients and families to express appreciation for care and service received. We recognize expressions of thanks are most often precipitated by the actions of a physician, nurse or other frontline caregiver; thus, the partnership of these critical allies is essential to sustainable success. Unlocking the beautiful partnership between grateful patients and families and inspired physician and clinician partners in support of a shared vision can inspire philanthropy to help transform the health and well-being of our community. How you approach building these partnerships can make all the difference. 

An Integrated Approach

Accordant’s approach to grateful patients and clinician partnerships ensures that these critical strategies are fully integrated into the core development program and completely aligned with the health system’s strategic priorities and not a “bolt on” initiatives that runs alongside other development efforts. While our approach addresses infrastructure, processes, training and all the tactical elements that comprise a successful grateful engagement strategy, what separates our approach is our deep respect for the powerful relationships formed through this work, the importance of aligning with the greater health system mission and our proven track record of helping organizations achieve real success through empowering and equipping the philanthropy team to drive this work long after we are gone. 

Our North Star – Gratitude & Experience

Grateful patient engagement is multi-faceted and touches nearly every aspect of the health care organization. Accordant’s Grateful Engagement model offers a holistic approach centered on gratitude, rooted in integrity, aligned with the supported health care organization and shaped by an evidence-based approach informed by psychology, neuroscience and large-scale national research studies. We open the aperture on gratitude to more thoughtfully consider the antecedents to gratitude in health care and to look at the greater context in which organizations work in order to be more effective, more integrated and less tone deaf to the current environment. 

Outline of Mountains

Beyond the Referral….
Building True Partnerships with a Focus on Well-Being

Accordant has pioneered a new approach to partner with physicians and clinicians as allies rather than simply referral sources. In this model, Accordant works with philanthropy partners to identify and recruit a strategic number of physician and clinician partners who have grateful patients and practice within the health care organization’s most pressing and strategic clinical priority areas as opposed to taking an “everyone” approach. Our highly effective approach to identifying, selecting, recruiting and engaging critical clinician champions resonates with clinicians. Our proven method of helping organizations build true partnerships with physician, clinician, nurse and service line partners has led to exponential increases in giving from grateful patients and families and real, sustainable, lasting engagement and partnerships. 


In today’s climate, we cannot overlook the well-being of our physician and clinician partners. Accordant is the leading industry consulting partner addressing clinician resilience and well-being alongside traditional gratitude training and resources. This approach strengthens the partnerships between physician and clinician partners and the philanthropy team.

Accelerated Performance and Sustainability

Your ability to maintain, drive and sustain the grateful engagement strategy long after we are gone is our main goal. One of the ways we ensure this is through focusing on the performance of philanthropic gift officers whose ability to nurture trusting and productive relationships with internal allies and clinician partners is key to success. Many philanthropic gift officers must develop new competencies as they pivot their focus from engaging external community partners to engaging internal allies and clinician partners within their service lines and clinical areas of focus. Accordant provides intensive training, coaching and mentorship and resources to philanthropic gift officers to develop core competencies for success and to prepare philanthropic gift officers to manage issues and objections unique to clinician partnerships. 

Forest Road
Reading Material

Gratitude Communications and Collateral

Strategies and tactics generally falter without significant consideration and effort to build a resounding culture that supports philanthropy. We view strategic communications as an integral element of the organization’s ability to build a widespread organizational culture of gratitude, and we are the only firm in the United States that specializes in communications strategy at this level. Our proven process to develop gratitude branded communications and collateral concepts strengthens the organization’s grateful engagement strategy by increasing awareness with the organization’s internal constituents about the importance of connecting gratitude to the foundation and through allowing donors to share and celebrate stories of gratitude in an easy and accessible way. 

Our Grateful Engagement Team

Erin Stitzel, FAHP, CFRE

Erin Stitzel, FAHP, CFRE is an industry leader in creating and implementing successful grateful patient and clinician partnership strategies. With 19 years spent advancing health care philanthropy, she has worked in over 65 hospitals across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to implement comprehensive grateful patient engagement and clinician partnership strategies including partnering with hundreds of physicians, clinicians and nurses in philanthropy. As Principal Consultant for Accordant, Erin serves as engagement lead for grateful patient strategy and implementation and specializes in physician and nurse training and working closely with philanthropic gift officers to provide intensive coaching, resources and guidance around building successful partnerships with ally and clinician partners. She has a proven track record of success in helping organizations substantially increase giving from grateful patients and families and building robust, service-line based clinician partnerships to increase grateful patient referrals and has published multiple case studies outlining this success.

Debbie Ferguson, CFRE

Debbie Ferguson, CFRE, brings more than 20 years of nonprofit experience to Accordant. Her background includes patient program creation and development; data solutions, updates and implementation; as well as program evaluations outlining successes, areas for growth and next steps.


Throughout her career, Debbie has worked extensively with cross-functional teams to help improve collaboration between frontline staff members and operations teams. She engages all key stakeholders to develop best practices for data integration and governance while supporting strategies for deploying data-driven decision making. By translating the significance of capturing and reporting meaningful data, Debbie brings valuable support to building pipelines for comprehensive campaigns and grateful patient programs.


Susan McSherry-Atwell

Susan McSherry-Atwell brings more than 30 years of professional experience and community leadership to Accordant. Her positive and relational leadership style, developed during her earlier career in marketing, advertising and sales, set her up for success in philanthropic development. Built on a common-sense approach to problem solving, Susan leads strategic plans to create and implement growth solutions for front line fundraising initiatives, donor cultivation, board relations and clinician engagement in philanthropy. She has a passion for leveraging her experience to help develop progressive road maps for organizational mission achievement and growth. She specializes in relationship management skills to build productive and engaged teams, further enhancing these practices through the pandemic where she excelled in creating structure, predictability and connectedness, bringing people together while working remotely.


Amy Dorrill, FAHP CFRE

Amy brings a wealth of expertise and experience from her more than 25 years in community hospitals and academic health care philanthropy programs. She specializes in significant gifts and partnerships for community impact and population health initiatives. Working with both health care and higher education organizations, Amy offers a unique perspective, especially valuable with academic medical centers. Amy’s passion lies in the impact of community and population health, the engagement of physicians and nurses in patient gratitude programs and the influence of effective board leadership.


Prior to Accordant, Amy served as Associate Dean for Advancement and Alumni Engagement at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. She led all aspects of the school’s development and alumni relations programs, including major gifts, planned giving, board leadership and comprehensive campaigns. Prior to Emory, Amy held various roles including Chief Development Officer at University Health Care System in Augusta, Georgia.

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