In the world of philanthropy, the impact of a donation is often measured by its monetary value. Hospital foundations, in particular, have relied on major gifts from affluent donors to advance their mission of improving healthcare. While these substantial contributions undoubtedly play a crucial role, there’s a growing recognition that philanthropy encompasses more than just financial capacity.

Hospital foundations are now shifting their focus to develop prospects based on meaningful connections, emphasizing inclusivity, engagement, diverse skills, supporter loyalty, hidden gems, and a holistic approach.  Our past data studies of patient discharges indicate that about 6.5% of a patient volume is interested in topics including health, community, and basic needs regardless of their wealth status. This should be an important prospect group for hospital foundations to embrace for several reasons.

Inclusivity: Welcoming Supporters from All Walks of Life

One of the core principles guiding this shift in donor cultivation is inclusivity. Hospital foundations are recognizing the importance of welcoming supporters from all backgrounds and income levels. After all, the healthcare mission should resonate with everyone, regardless of their financial capacity. By expanding their reach beyond major donors, these foundations ensure that anyone who wants to contribute to their mission can find a meaningful way to do so.

Engagement: Fostering a Sense of Community

Building relationships with a diverse group of prospects fosters a sense of engagement and community. Hospital foundations understand that engaged supporters are more likely to become long-term advocates for their institution and its essential work. Engaged supporters can also inspire others to get involved, creating a ripple effect of support that goes beyond the initial contact.

Diverse Skills and Expertise: Contributions Beyond Finances

Prospects bring more to the table than just their financial resources. Many individuals possess unique skills, expertise, and networks that can be just as valuable as a major gift. These contributions can range from volunteering time and sharing professional expertise to connecting a foundation with new partners and resources. Hospital foundations are realizing that these non-monetary contributions can be instrumental in advancing their mission.

Supporter Loyalty: A Result of Personal Connection

When hospital foundations develop prospects based on their personal connection to the mission rather than solely their financial capacity, it tends to result in stronger supporter loyalty. These individuals are more likely to stay engaged with the foundation for the long term, providing consistent support that is essential for sustained impact.

Discovering Hidden Gems: Uncovering Passionate Supporters

Some of the most passionate and dedicated supporters may not initially appear to have major gift capacity. Hospital foundations have learned that by taking the time to build relationships and understand the motivations of these individuals, they often discover hidden gems who become significant advocates and supporters over time.

A Holistic Approach: Meeting Diverse Needs

Hospital foundations recognize that their mission involves more than just funding specific projects or capital campaigns. A holistic approach to prospect development ensures that they can address the diverse needs of their institution and community. While major gifts are crucial for specific initiatives, a well-rounded group of supporters helps fund ongoing operational needs, research, and other essential priorities.

Impact on Social Determinants of Health

Hospital foundations play a pivotal role in improving healthcare, but their impact extends beyond the hospital walls. They also have the potential to address Social Determinants of Health. SDOH are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and they significantly influence health outcomes. Hospital foundations can contribute to addressing SDOH in several ways:

  • Community Programs: By engaging with a diverse group of supporters, hospital foundations can fund community programs that address issues such as access to healthy food, affordable housing, and education. These programs have a direct impact on SDOH and can improve overall community well-being.
  • Research and Advocacy: Hospital foundations can support research that identifies the root causes of health disparities and advocate for policies that address these issues. This advocacy can lead to systemic changes that improve SDOH.
  • Collaboration: Foundations can collaborate with other community organizations, government agencies, and healthcare providers to create comprehensive solutions that tackle SDOH from multiple angles.

In conclusion, hospital foundations are evolving their approach to prospect development by prioritizing meaningful connections over major gift capacity. This shift not only promotes inclusivity and engagement but also harnesses a broader range of skills and expertise while fostering supporter loyalty. It allows foundations to uncover hidden gems and take a holistic approach to addressing their institution’s diverse needs. By inviting everyone to participate in their mission, hospital foundations create a stronger and more resilient community of supporters, all working together to make a lasting impact on healthcare and the social determinants of health that affect us all.

If you’re interested in joining this movement towards more inclusive and meaningful philanthropy or learning more about how you can support your local hospital foundation, please visit our website or reach out to our dedicated team. Together, we can create a healthier and brighter future for your community.

Neil Smithson is the Founder and CEO of Brightway Data, LLC and CensusMatch which helps hospital foundations expand their prospect footprint beyond generic wealth models.   He has decades of experience in patient financial services and predictive modeling.   For more information on the Company, please visit