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Health Care Philanthropy’s Secret Strategy: The Case for Building Campaign and Grateful Engagement Concurrently

In the complex world of health care philanthropy, simplicity and linear timelines are rare. With limited resources and budgets, some organizations shy away from focusing energy and resources around advancing a grateful engagement strategy while also trying to campaign, but this must be overcome. The benefits of employing a strategy that combines campaigning and grateful engagement in a coordinated approach can lead to remarkable success in supporting the community.

By launching wave campaigns and investing in grateful engagement at the same time, we create a catalyst for philanthropy that surpasses what either strategy can achieve alone. The momentum generated by running both strategies concurrently is invaluable. As the campaign gains traction and garners attention, it creates a sense of urgency and excitement that can be harnessed to fuel the grateful engagement strategy. This momentum helps build enthusiasm among team members, volunteers, donors and the community at large.

Here are five reasons to combine campaign and grateful engagement at your health care organization:

  1. Physician Leadership: Physicians make excellent campaign leaders and allies, but building relationships with them beforehand is crucial. Simply obtaining their signature on a letter is not enough to demonstrate the depth of their relationships.

  2. Allies and Referrals: Involving allies in the philanthropy process leads to earlier and larger gifts. Programs need allies to refer prospects and participate in the fund development efforts.

  3. Grateful Patient Data: Grateful patient data is invaluable for campaigns and expanding prospect pools. Launching grateful engagement strategy in areas aligned with the strategic plan is essential.

  4. Credibility and Trust: Physicians, clinicians and nurses are highly respected and trusted professionals. Their involvement in the campaign lends credibility and allegiance from donors and volunteers that cannot be easily obtained.

  5. Clear Opportunities for Partnership: Campaign activity brings forth developed cases and clear partnership opportunities for physician leaders. They are more likely to join a winning team with progress, a goal and a specified timeline.

“Embracing the simultaneous approach of grateful patient engagement and campaign management is not just a strategy, it’s a philosophy. It’s about understanding that the power of philanthropy lies in the synergy of these two elements. When we engage our patients with gratitude while managing our campaigns effectively, we create a ripple effect of goodwill that extends far beyond the immediate act of giving. This approach not only amplifies our impact but also fosters a culture of generosity and community that is the very essence of health care philanthropy.”

Roy Lowdenback, MA, CFRE

System Vice President, Philanthropy

Baptist Health

Follow these next steps to help your organization build out this strategic coordinated approach effectively and successfully:

  1. Begin wave campaigning: Focus on a specific initiative and align with physicians who are passionate about that initiative. You don’t need to court all physicians; be specific, aligned and agile.

  2. Manage your progressive pipeline and portfolio: Ask prospects about the impact they want to make in health care and plan the next two outreach areas accordingly. Grateful engagement strategy allies can support philanthropy officers in strategic moves.

  3. Start grateful patient and family outreach: Once your pipeline is stable and well-managed, reach out to grateful patients and families identified through your strategy. Engage them through letters, calls or events, inviting them to learn more about your campaign.

Coordinating a synchronized and concurrent approach to both wave campaigning and grateful engagement may require effort, but the exponential return on investment makes it worthwhile. The momentum generated by running both programs at the same time, along with the opportunity to marry volunteer action to clinician ally activity, adds significant value. Treating donors with respect and prioritizing their philanthropic goals will lead to progress in building a successful campaign and grateful engagement culture.

Accordant Perspectives_Health Care Philanthropys Secret Strategy
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About the Authors:

Heather Wiley Starankovic, CFRE, CAP®, is a Principal Consultant with Accordant. She remains inspired by all things within health care philanthropy, with a special dedication to supporting and recognizing staff members along with the desire to create programs that keep talented and dedicated servant leaders within the field. You can reach Heather by email at or by connecting through LinkedIn.

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.


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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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