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Optimizing Charitable Giving: The Importance of Cultivating Meaningful Donor Connections

In health care organizations, charitable giving is not just about raising funds—it’s about fostering enduring partnerships rooted in shared values and aspirations. A robust fund development program hinges on securing investment-level gifts from individuals through major and planned giving programs. This requires a keen understanding of donor motivations, intentions and desire for impact aligned with the organization’s mission.

The number of American households giving to charitable organizations has been on a long, slow decline. Now, fewer than 50% of American households give to charitable causes each year. As gifts increasingly come from fewer and fewer hands, the importance of engaging those donors who can give at a higher level has become increasingly important. Therefore, health care organizations must prioritize cultivating meaningful connections with potential major donors.

As gifts increasingly come from fewer and fewer hands, the importance of engaging those donors who can give at a higher level has become increasingly important.

Elevating Major and Planned Giving Programs

Major and planned giving programs are the cornerstone of sustainable philanthropy for health care organizations. Major giving involves soliciting significant gifts from individuals who have the capacity and inclination to make substantial contributions. These gifts often play a pivotal role in furthering critical initiatives by funding capital, clinical programs, community health and more. Major donors are typically identified through careful prospect research and cultivated through personalized stewardship efforts. While major gifts generally rely on outright gifts from income, planned giving focuses on securing gifts through assets or as part of estate planning. Together, major and planned giving programs provide a stable foundation for financial sustainability, allowing health care organizations to advance their mission of providing quality care and improving health outcomes for their communities. Through strategic cultivation, stewardship and thoughtful planning, these programs help ensure charitable support continues to make meaningful community impact for generations to come.

Optimizing Charitable Giving

To optimize charitable giving, health care organizations must first identify individuals whose values resonate deeply with their mission. This entails more than just soliciting funds; it’s about cultivating genuine relationships built on trust and mutual respect.

Health care organizations should also share stories of courage and healing, inviting donors to become protagonists in the quest for a healthier world. To achieve this, crafting a compelling case for support is essential. The case for support is the bedrock of any successful fund development effort, articulating why individuals would want to invest in a particular initiative. This strategic document outlines the mission, goals and impact of the organization while conveying the urgency and importance of the work. A well-crafted case for support illuminates the specific needs and challenges faced by the organization, while also highlighting the transformative potential of philanthropic investment. It speaks directly to the hearts and minds of potential donors through powerful and compelling stories, inspiring them to align their resources with the organization’s vision and values and help affect positive change throughout their communities.

Embracing innovation is also key to optimizing charitable giving. Health care organizations must leverage new technologies and strategies to enhance the donor experience and amplify their impact. Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) provides significant leverage in optimizing resources and maximizing impact. AI tools can analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential donors, personalize engagement strategies and predict giving behaviors. By leveraging AI, health care organizations can target their outreach more effectively, ensuring precious resources are allocated where they will yield the greatest return on investment. Moreover, AI-driven insights enable organizations to understand donor preferences and motivations more deeply, fostering stronger relationships and long-term support. In a rapidly evolving philanthropic landscape, embracing AI technology isn’t just advantageous—it’s essential for staying agile, responsive and effective.

Ultimately, in the dynamic landscape of philanthropy, success lies in cultivating authentic and meaningful connections—connections that require personalization. Tailored opportunities for engagement and customized acknowledgments demonstrate to donors that they are valued partners in the organization’s mission. Stewardship and gratitude are also non-negotiable. Expressing genuine appreciation and keeping donors informed about the impact of their contributions fosters loyalty and goodwill. By cultivating these connections through aligning values, telling compelling stories and embracing innovation, health care organizations can optimize charitable giving as a low-risk, high-ROI, alternative revenue source to advance their healing mission.

Accordant White Paper_Optimizing Charitable Giving
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About the Author: Betsy Chapin Taylor, FAHP, is CEO of Accordant. 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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