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Advancing the Doctors’ Day Appeal: Achieving Maximum Physician Engagement and Meaningful Connection

National Doctors’ Day takes place annually on March 30th as a way to express gratitude for and recognize the tireless contributions of our physicians. Doctors’ Day is not only a time for our hospitals to celebrate physicians, but also a time for patients, families and donors to express their appreciation for their physicians through a Doctors’ Day appeal.


The History of National Doctors’ Day

On March 30, 1933, in Barrow County, Georgia, Eudora Brown Almond embarked on a mission to honor the invaluable contributions of physicians to their communities. As the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, she initiated a heartfelt gesture by sending greeting cards to local physicians and adorning the graves of deceased doctors with red carnations.

The significance of Doctors’ Day gained formal recognition in 1958 when the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution to acknowledge this occasion. Subsequently, in 1990, President George H. W. Bush solidified its status by signing a resolution designating March 30th as National Doctors’ Day.¹


A Doctors’ Day appeal, facilitated by the hospital’s philanthropy team, commemorates Doctors’ Day and encourages patients, families, donors and the community to honor their physicians by making a philanthropic contribution and sharing a story of gratitude. To honor physicians on Doctors’ Day in a meaningful and personal way, it is important to share gratitude stories with them before or by March 30th. Therefore, the appeal must be sent well before this date to ensure there is ample time to gather and document the stories for sharing. The appeal can be done through a traditional mail appeal, digitally or a combination of both depending on the organization’s budget and resources. Regardless of the type of appeal, there are a few things that should be remembered when advancing any type of Doctors’ Day appeal.

Doctors Day is not only a time for our hospitals to celebrate physicians, but also a time for patients, families and donors to express their appreciation for their physicians through a Doctors Day appeal.

  • Physician Engagement > Monetary Goals The average gift of a typical philanthropy appeal can range from $25 to $100. While there are always exceptions, an organization should not expect more than modest gifts to be given through a Doctors’ Day appeal. However modest the gifts, the opportunity to engage physicians through the stories shared is vast. Meeting and engaging with new physicians presents a valuable opportunity that can leave a lasting impact on all the physicians acknowledged in the appeal. This impact is key to the appeal’s success, which should trump any monetary goals for the appeal.

  • Personal Recognition is Best In today’s digital world, a handwritten note conveys the personal and sincere touch that electronic communications often lack. The Doctors’ Day appeal should encourage gratitude stories to be handwritten either by the donor or philanthropy team. A mail appeal might include a blank card for writing stories to be sent back or shared directly with the physician. If digital, stories shared through an online form should be handwritten by the organization and shared with the physician. Philanthropy team members should also take time to deliver the notes in-person and express gratitude face-to-face.

  • Maximize Stewardship Opportunities In health care, oftentimes patients’ first gift to the organization is a modest gift through an appeal like the Doctors’ Day appeal. However, it is patient donors who often become the most significant contributors over time. Therefore, regardless of the gift size, it is important to do prospect research on every single donor, and more importantly, take time to call each Doctors’ Day donor to personally thank them for their contribution and learn more about their connection to their physician.

  • Safekeep Gratitude Notes Maintaining a standardized approach to capturing and storing donor gratitude notes in your database is key for nurturing meaningful donor connections, and Doctors’ Day notes are no exception. Keeping a record of donors’ personal notes of gratitude can inform follow up communication methods and strategies as well as support seamless collaboration within fund development teams. This organized data serves as a valuable resource for informed decision-making, contributing to an enhanced overall donor experience. In all cases, ensure your organization’s HIPAA practices and preferences are properly observed when storing individual data points shared by donors.

Doctors’ Day presents an ideal opportunity to acquire new patient and family donors, but more importantly, it provides the opportunity to engage and celebrate your physicians in a meaningful way that will leave a lasting impact.

To learn more about how to maximize your Doctor’s Day appeal, reach out to:

Erin Stitzel, FAHP, at

or Debbie Ferguson, CFRE, at

Accordant Perspectives_Doctors Day Appeal
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About the Authors:

Erin Stitzel, FAHP, is a Principal Consultant for Accordant and a leader in building robust clinician partnerships to advance philanthropy. You can reach her through email at or through LinkedIn.

Debbie Ferguson, CFRE, is a Senior Consultant for Philanthropy Operations and Data with Accordant. She specializes in best practices for data solutions, integration and governance as well as patient program evaluation, creation and development. She can be reached at or through LinkedIn.


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The Accordant Team has published a number of books to advance the efforts of health care philanthropy and help development leaders everywhere. 

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Accordant is honored to collaborate with American Hospital Association Trustee Services to provide issue papers, templates and webinars to support the involvement of healthcare trustees and foundation board members in advancing philanthropy. These resources can also be found on the AHA Trustee website.

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