Elevating Philanthropy: The Power of Gratitude in Everyday

The word gratitude is used multiple times a day in the fundraising industry. It ensures donors and supporters know how thankful foundations and organizations are for their support. Although the word is frequently used, do we really know the impact gratitude has on philanthropic work?

Learn how other organizations are using a donor-centric approach to capture the minds, hearts, and donations of their donors!

Infusing gratitude into everyday work and routine will propel recognition programs and strategies forward.

Focusing on gratitude inspired philanthropy, and shifting to this mindset in procedures, processes and strategies has multiple benefits for the organization, those served, and partners.

Gratitude inspired philanthropy results in:

  1. An enhanced patient experience.
  2. Reduced clinician burnout.
  3. Expanded philanthropic support.

The root of philanthropy is the love of humankind, and this is what healthcare providers practice every single day. There is a natural connection between philanthropy gratitude and care experienced gratitude. Patient’s families and community members are responding by expressing gratitude, saying thank you to those that help them. They want to find a way to do something for the healthcare team because they did something for them. As philanthropy teams, it is imperative to find the natural connection between philanthropic gratitude and care experienced gratitude.

To harness the power of gratitude, organizations must integrate it into their daily practices and routines.

1. Expressing and Receiving Gratitude

For the exchange of gratitude to achieve success, the philanthropy team must give people a space to express their gratitude, and also guide the care team to accept this gratitude in an engaging manner. Philanthropy can help the care teams understand the impact and importance of accepting the gratitude, and how to do so in a way that honours the patient and families.

When people are feeling grateful, there is often an inspiring and impactful story they want to share. We know that many in healthcare are burnt out and don’t always have time for additional conversations. Asking healthcare teams to make a connection with the philanthropy team, once they have accepted the gratitude, is a way to make the transfer to the philanthropy. It is then the philanthropy teams’ job to take these stories, listen and share the impact to further inspire and set the cycle into motion.  

2. Integrating Teams

In order to fulfill this process and become an integrated team, philanthropy teams need to be repositioned as partners with the care team and working together as a unit to further inspire and share stories. Engage in meaningful conversations and share how the work will result in support for their dedicated work. Philanthropy professionals are skilled at listening and identifying passions. They then become the triage of gratitude on behalf of the care team.

3. Evolution of Conversation

The work starts by evolving from a traditional model in fundraising to partnering on a model of philanthropy in healthcare. A key to this transition is adopting new language in philanthropy to create long term partnerships with people who are or have been grateful. Not only do these changes need to happen in conversation with those partners, and grateful patients, they need to also be had internally. This process needs to become part of the strategy discussions and daily meetings with the team. Start to utilize the new language in meetings, processes, and reporting. There needs to be a change to the culture of how we think about the work that we are doing, starting within our own teams, and working our way to the external conversations.

A starting point is reviewing the terms used when referring to donors and the donation process. For example, the term ‘donor’ has a much different meaning in healthcare, such as organ, tissue or blood donor, than it does in fundraising.

The team must be challenged to think about moving away from the traditional and transforming to an innovative approach in philanthropy. Take a chance every moment possible to talk about the work of the organization and how it facilitates the love of humankind. It is critical to move from transactional language that has evolved from the original fundraising language, which came from the sales world. This transition needs to occur to distinguish the work and impact of philanthropy.

4. Partnerships

The primary relationships in healthcare are clinical. Philanthropy partnerships are secondary but can bring healing and joy to grateful patients and families as they share their experiences and story. Philanthropy is an extension of the team, and a small part that can help people process emotions, passion and gratitude, and these conversations can provide an outlet for them to express themselves in a way that further supports the care team.

It is important to find innovative approaches to facilitate gratitude and recognize those that are partners and champions of the work of the organization. The philanthropy team must encourage and allow people to share their stories and appreciation for care team members. As a way to immerse the language and gratitude focused philanthropy, look at having a dedicated gratitude program, or create naming/recognition opportunities for those inspired.

A way to extend gratitude further and inspire others is to integrate gratitude into donor recognition and engagement. Inspire others to see themselves and feel connected to the cause. Through this, share their experiences and inspiration for giving, for others to see and understand, resulting in a culture of gratitude among the healthcare team, patients, partners, and families. Integrating gratitude celebrates people investing in people.


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