We often attribute philanthropy to a specific sector – perhaps when describing a charitable organization raising or managing funds – but, in reality, the true spirit of philanthropy is much broader than that. It simply indicates the promotion of, and dedication to, the welfare of others.
Since making life better for others is what nurses do on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that the two ideas have been connected before. Healthcare is at its root an industry focused on people – and nurses, who are the front line of providing care to patients, are largely responsible for acting as that human lens through which people can interact with their own care.
There is also the sheer volume of nurses to consider. With 3.1 million individuals currently practicing nationwide, nurses comprise the largest single component of hospital staff. They are woven into the very fabric of healthcare itself. Since there are so many nurse practitioners in such a wide variety of clinical fields, nurses tend to spend the most time face-to-face with patients, and therefore they are the most likely to notice the philanthropic inklings of potential donors.
Patients make gifts for any number of reasons – to show gratitude for extraordinary care, to be a part of something bigger than they can accomplish alone, to create a legacy. In many cases, the excellent care and compassion provided by nursing professionals can often inspire a patient’s desire to give back. Nurses already play a vital role in healthcare, but with the right support and training, nurses can learn to respond to patient gratitude in a manner that opens the door for future philanthropic engagement.
How can we involve nurses in the philanthropic process?
In a time of decreasing reimbursements from payors and increasing costs in the healthcare industry, it’s important to enlist all members of hospital staff in the philanthropic initiative. There are a variety of ways to involve nurses in philanthropy. You could show your gratitude by hosting a luncheon dedicated to your nurses, or by sending them heartfelt thank-you notes; perhaps you could even include a nurse on the Foundation Board, or invite nursing specialists to present information about their specialty and its impact on patients and families to the development department team. Showing nurses your gratitude and appreciation is a great first step in helping them to recognize those same emotions in patients – but it’s not the only step.
Here at Gobel, we provide training that inspires nurses to become active partners with the philanthropy office. Our program explains the significance of patient gratitude as part of the healing process, discusses how nurses can support patients’ requests to give, and identifies key steps nurses can take in making a professional referral to a development officer. The session has also been accredited by the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center for a contact hour of continuing education for registered nurses.
Nurse involvement is absolutely critical in attracting and utilizing philanthropy donations. Fortunately, many nurses have already recognized the need for creative philanthropy. We need only help them to learn to embrace opportunities for partnerships with their hospital foundation in order to leverage philanthropy toward clinical innovations and to improve quality of care.