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How does prospect research vary by nonprofit cause?

The first little pig needed straw. The second little pig required sticks. The third little pig sought bricks. And that big bad wolf? He needed enough breath to blow all those houses down. Depending on who you are, what you need to succeed varies. No two types of nonprofits seek the same prospects. An education-based nonprofit won’t build its fundraising campaign from the same prospects as a healthcare organization, which will differ in prospects from fraternities and sororities. Like a home, you build your life out of the materials at hand, and you hammer away at your work until something stands upright that you can be proud of. While the various types of nonprofits use prospect research to unearth similar information, they’re doing so for different types of donors and for a wide range of causes. We’ll talk about eight different nonprofits that use prospect research:
  1. K-12 Education Organizations
  2. Higher Education Institutions
  3. Healthcare Organizations
  4. Greek Organizations
  5. Arts and Cultural Nonprofits
  6. Community Foundations
  7. Faith-Based Organizations
  8. Advocacy Groups, Social Service Organizations, and Environmental Groups
jQuery(window).on("hashchange", function () { window.scrollTo(window.scrollX, window.scrollY - 200); }); Keep reading as look deeper at these types of organizations and how they can use prospect research to their advantage.

K-12 Education Organizations

Unless they’re prodigy pop stars or the lucky inheritors of a family fortune, young adults tend not to have the funds to give major gifts. This leaves their parents as the prime major gift prospects. Each year, new students arrive, old ones leave, and parents come and go with their children. It’s important for schools to screen their lists of parents at certain times throughout the year in order to identify who to pursue with their limited fundraising resources. Good screening times include:
  • the beginning of the school year
  • the end of the year around graduation
  • in between semesters
It’s important to space out screening prospects so as not to overwhelm your fundraising team with too much information at once. Most parents remain involved with schools for multiple years, so time is on your side, but you want to make the most of it.

Higher Education Institutions

As with K-12 schools, parents are a primary focus, but they’re not the only focus. Alumni networks are filled with wealthy folks eager to support their alma maters. Many colleges and universities use telefunds to reach out to their alumni networks, and telefunds are most efficient when they organize prospects according to certain criteria, such as a specific calling pool for major gift prospects. This allows schools to keep track of their most important donors and call them at the right times of the year with specific ask strategies. If you’re interested in learning more expert advice on how colleges and universities can raise funds, check out our university fundraising guide. Keep in mind that reaching out to current students and recent graduates may not be fruitful, especially in terms of landing major gifts, but it’s important to plant the philanthropy seed early. That way, when these people do make big bucks they remember to give back to the place that set them on the right path. Learn more about prospect research for education-based organizations.

Healthcare Organizations

People get sick, people feel better, and people are constantly coming and going from hospitals. This leaves healthcare organizations with little time to discover who among the masses is a major gift prospect. Hospitals can bulk screen patients daily, weekly, or monthly, according to their schedules. It’s important to stay on top of the constant influxes and departures of patients, as cultivating relationships takes time. You don’t want to miss out on your chance to begin dialogues with the people most likely to give large donations. Many nonprofit hospitals run grateful patient programs, which consist of teams of doctors, fundraisers, and other staff who use prospect research to pursue donations from the major gift prospects either staying in or recently departed from their hospitals. Grateful patient programs work best with daily patient screenings, as you don’t want to miss out on a single opportunity to pursue a donation

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5 Best Practices for Grateful Patient Programs

Ice cream is a great thing, but it’s even better when mixed with your favorite toppings. In life, great things can always be improved, and you should never settle for anything less than the next determined progression towards your desired perfection. Of course, perfection is impossible, but just like plain vanilla ice cream turns into a fun sundae thanks to the addition of whipped cream and jimmies, you can improve your Grateful Patient Program by implementing best practices that can help the program to turn a corner. From how frequently to implement prospect research to solicitation plans to how to use major gift officers, we’ll show you how to go from starting a Grateful Patient Program to making it as effective as possible in order to yield a program so efficient that you’ll swear you can taste the goodness.

1) Conduct prospect research through our Daily Patient Screening service

Prospect research is the spotlight that shines upon the prospects who can deliver big gifts to your organization. Not everyone can be a major gift donor, and prospect research ensures that you focus valuable fundraising resources on your most generous donors. When you conduct prospect research with DonorSearch, you receive in-depth data on your list of patients, including:
  • Past philanthropy (both to your organization and other nonprofits)
  • Insights into the causes and organizations that the donor supports
  • Political giving
  • Ask amounts based on philanthropy and wealth
  • Corporate and nonprofit involvement
  • Real estate ownership
  • SEC insider stock transactions
Having all of this data is one thing, having it organized is another, and being able to interpret the information in a timely manner is yet another thing entirely. DonorSearch provides three scoring systems to make it easy to identify major gift prospects at a glance. The scores include our proprietary DS rating, along with a quality score, and a RFM score.

2) Entrust major gift officers

With the major gift prospects identified from your screened list, it’s time to assign them to specific gift officers. Gift officers will save you from having to punt on prospects by solving the tough questions, such as:
  • Why does this prospect do very little philanthropic giving despite a large capacity to give?
  • Has the prospect been incorrectly approached about donating?
  • Has the prospect not found the proper cause to support?
  • Has the prospect not been convinced of the value of a donation?
Patients can be split up according to what works best for your organization, but it’s good to prioritize certain types of donors to the gift officers who handle those people best. Types of donors include patients who are current major donors, patients who could do much more philanthropy than they presently do, and wealthy patients who have yet to give. Fundraising is a long game, but gift officers armed with prospect research can make it a whole lot easier.

3) Gain the support of hospital leadership

Grateful Patient Programs can’t succeed, or begin in the first place, without the support of several hospital departments. You need to get everyone on board with the mission of your Grateful Patient Program, as your program will struggle to succeed without the proper leadership and support. Present the potential revenue increase to hospital executive leadership. However, a pitch focused on money may not do the trick, and it may be necessary to enlist the support of board members to convince the executive leadership and other hospital administrators of the importance of such a program. If departments are concerned about how they’ll be affected by a Grateful Patient Program then focus on how you’ll work hard to make the implementation of the program as smooth and as positive of an experience as possible. Make sure to connect with the people who support your efforts, as they can help to convince the doubters to get on board. Once you have the executive leadership on board, it will be easier to gather support from other hospital departments. A major concern among doctors in regards to Grateful Patient Programs is gift officers visiting patients. You’ll want to address those concerns early and often, as a Grateful Patient Program will struggle to succeed with reluctant doctors. Select a group of supportive doctors and nurses to serve as program ambassadors. These people will address the concerns of more hesitant personnel and ensure that fundraising efforts have minimal impact upon the medical staff.

4) Implement a solicitation plan

From letters to emails to phone calls to in-person visits, it requires a team effort to convince a prospect to commit to a big donation. So strap on your boots and get to work, because, while statistics can be used to skew the odds in your favor, fundraising can be an unpredictable pursuit that should be tailored to the individual prospect. You’re competing against many other nonprofits, both hospitals and other organizations, for the limited funds that any donor is willing to give. You need to be timely, precise, and enthusiastic about all of your donation pitches. To stay on top of who you’ve solicited and who you have yet to contact, you should:
  • Track proposals in your donor database — Each prospect should have an individualized proposal that includes: ask amount, anticipated gift date, and the purpose for the gift. Update the proposal at each stage of the solicitation process: research, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship.
  • File contact reports — Report all phone calls, visits, and correspondences of any kind with the prospect. You want to know what you’ve done in order to determine the best next steps.
  • Conduct frequent prospect management meetings — Meet with fundraisers and other hospital staff involved with the Grateful Patient Program to ensure that operations are running smoothly and prospects are moving through the solicitation pipeline. New prospects and requests for more prospect research can be presented at this time.
Typically, actual solicitation does not begin until the patient leaves the hospital, but donors vary and it’s up to you to decide when it’s best to begin the asking process. There’s a vast array of fundraising strategies to employ, but always keep in mind that solicitation plans are really just guidelines, and every donor requires an individualized game plan.

5) Track and measure your program

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Fundraising with a Grateful Patient Program

Your healthcare organization has limited resources, and it’s important to use them efficiently. There are only so many doctors with so much time to spread out among all of your patients in order to provide the best possible experiences. When patients receive exemplary care, they’re more apt to give back to your organization. Healthcare organizations with Grateful Patient Programs have chosen to raise funds from a select group of willing donors. All donors matter, but Grateful Patient Programs focus on the prospects who can give gifts large enough to purchase new equipment, update facilities, and cover other pricey expenses. Organizations must be strategic about identifying major donors, as time is of the essence, and gifts that can make big differences for healthcare organizations could slip through their fingers if they’re not efficient about finding willing, generous donors with the most to give.

Daily Patient Screening

Grateful Patient Programs are a unique form of fundraising in that patients are always coming and going. You have constant influxes of new patients and discharges, and it can be hard to identify them all as either potential donors or not. Prospect research efficiently identifies the major gift prospects among your patients. This saves your gift officers time, so they can devote more effort to soliciting donors. The Daily Patient Screening service is DonorSearch’s solution to this problem. DonorSearch’s screening service identifies the best prospective donors while they are still in your facility or while their positive experiences remain fresh on their minds after discharge. DonorSearch will return in-depth wealth and philanthropic information about each donor, so you can pinpoint your strongest prospects at the best times to start relationships. The Daily Patient Screening service is optimal for Grateful Patient Programs, but DonorSearch will work according to the scheduling needs of your organization. With prospect research in hand, your staff can dedicate extra attention and service to the patients from which you stand to benefit the most. Learn more Grateful Patient Program best practices.

Who Should Not Be Targeted

While prospect research reveals major gift donors, you can save both time and money by knowing which patients not to submit for prospect screenings. These are patients whose circumstances clearly dictate that they do not have the means to give a significant gift:
  • Patients on Medicaid
  • Self-paying patients
  • Pediatric patients (under 18)
  • Young adults
  • Patients who have opted out of fundraising communications per HIPAA guidelines

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How to Start a Grateful Patient Program

Hospitals save lives by providing care that positively impacts the lives of both patients and their families, and work doesn’t get much more personal than that. That makes it sound like grateful donations should simply fall into your organization’s lap, but fundraising is not that simple. While nonprofit hospitals provide intimate care, many struggle to grow personally close to patients. While repairing torn muscles and curing mysterious pains lets your patients keep working hard, you need assistance, too. For nonprofit hospitals, donations are vital for improving hospital services. Improvements include:
  • Updating facilities
  • Purchasing better equipment
  • Talent acquisition
  • Increased marketing efforts
Fundraising success almost always requires a dedicated strategy, and creating a Grateful Patient Program is one of the best fundraising decisions that your healthcare organization could make.

Staff Needed to Operate a Grateful Patient Program

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What is a Grateful Patient Program?

Grateful Patient Programs are fundraising initiatives that allow hospitals and other healthcare organizations to find more major gift prospects among their patients.

What is a Grateful Patient Program?

A Grateful Patient Program raises money from present and former hospital patients, and aims to increase donations from past donors. The goal of these programs is to provide exemplary service to high quality fundraising prospects or donors to create a culture of gratefulness, which, eventually, with the proper fundraising strategy, leads to donations to the hospital.

Why Do Hospitals Need Grateful Patient Programs?

Most of us need money to do things, and hospitals require funds for the new equipment, talent, services, facility renovations, and other functions that improve both patient care and the overall hospital experience. Grateful Patient Programs also benefit patients. These programs extend the opportunity for patients to both express gratefulness and to extend support to the individual staff members and departments that played meaningful roles in their care. Patients also get to support the future of their own healthcare, as well as the medical care of countless others in their communities. In asking for money so that your hospital can do more, you’re extending the opportunity for patients to do more, too. Hospitals are also brands, and all brands want to be known for doing good. A Grateful Patient Program can support claims that your hospital provides exemplary care, as patients generously give back in return for positive experiences. A hospital with a good reputation is apt to receive more patients, and, when the good word spreads, any and all patients might consider giving some amount to support the future of both the hospital and their own medical care.

What Makes a Grateful Patient Program Successful?

A lack of public awareness in regards to financial need is the biggest hurdle for nonprofit hospitals, as reported by The Nonprofit Times. High healthcare costs foster illegitimate beliefs that hospitals rake in huge profits, but philanthropy is essential for nonprofit facilities to be able to continue to provide the best doctors, equipment, and overall care. Grateful Patient Programs require a serious investment of time and resources from your healthcare organization, so, for long-term fundraising success, think about instituting the following program components:
  • Dedicated staff
  • Budget
  • Privacy guidelines
  • Data processes
  • Recruitment strategies
  • Screening processes
  • Prospect and program management

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