Tips for Successful Healthcare Fundraising

Although the principles of good fundraising are universal, applying them to healthcare requires adaptation. At Graham-Pelton, we understand the nuances of successful fundraising in the healthcare sector and bring our vast knowledge as practitioners and consultants to bear on every client engagement, including grateful patient fundraising, engaging internal and external partners, and donor stewardship. Use the following techniques to get your organization on the road to fundraising success today.

Clinician & Academic Engagement

A positive working relationship with the clinician/ researcher is critical. Those relationships need to be cultivated just as proactively and creatively as those with existing and potential donors. Building trust and proactive communication are keys to success in establishing these relationships.

  • Encourage physicians and researchers to “dream big” in developing ideas that will inspire philanthropists to make transformational investments.
  • Recognize clinicians by reinforcing the positive impact these individuals have in helping to attract philanthropic investments.
  • Provide training that illustrates the art and science of fundraising. Be sure to meet clinicians and researchers where they are in terms of proficiency as well as their ability to devote time to this process.

Internal & External Partnerships

Effective partnerships are built upon mutual understanding, trust, and common goals. Those partnerships can be both internal with academic and administrative leaders, physicians, and researchers, and external with partnerships ranging from board members, donors themselves, their advisors, foundations, corporations, and both government and non-government organizations. The role of the fundraiser is to lead a process that results in understanding, trust, and agreed upon goals.

  • Provide business plans in proposals and annual reports on how funds are being used for the designated purpose. Show immediate (or at least short-term) return on those investments.
  • Illustrate how you collaborate with other organizations to bring the best and brightest together in order to solve a problem that is important to that donor.
  • Be prepared to change course. Agility is more important than a perfect plan.

Donor Stewardship & Celebration

Proper stewardship is no longer just about thanking donors in a nice way. The ‘donors as investors’ phenomenon has transformed stewardship into a sophisticated approach to providing real feedback on the use of funds as well as outcomes derived from those expenditures. Unfortunately, there have been many high profile, public cases of donor stewardship gone horribly wrong that have resulted in lawsuits and demands for the return of past donations due to perceptions that the institution is no longer honoring the original intent of the donor. As a result, gift proposals have become more complex and detail oriented, with gift agreements often being negotiated by legal counsel representing the donor, not the donors themselves.

  • Set and manage expectations on the part of the donor and organization before the gift agreement is even drafted, let alone signed. Include specific language about recognition, signage, use of the donor’s name/ representations, and future involvement of family members.
  • Connect the dots for your donor. Translate information from physicians and researchers in a way that highlights the impact of their philanthropy.
  • Consider simple gatherings of family and friends along with representatives of the organization who are important to the donor. Small events can be just as meaningful to the donor as the large, elaborate affairs we often think about.

Stuart Sullivan is a Senior Vice President at Graham-Pelton Consulting.  Contact him by email or by calling 1 (800) 608.7955.

All Services

Fundraising Strategy

  • Annual giving
  • Planned giving
  • Principal and major gifts
  • Risk assessment


  • Planning studies
  • Campaign strategy and counsel
  • Campaign assessments and audits
  • Communications
  • Coaching

Attraction and Retention

  • Donor relations
  • Alumni relations
  • Grateful patient programs
  • International scoping
  • Member relations

Organizational Effectiveness

  • Operational assessments
  • Talent assessments and development
  • Training and engagement
  • Interim staffing

Business Intelligence

  • Prospect profiling
  • Database optimization
  • Wealth screening and analysis
  • Fundraising metrics


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.