Physician Giving Societies
By Ashley Roberts
Many healthcare institutions struggle with how to best cultivate their physicians as donors. Our physicians are the lifeline of our missions and without their expertise and passion, delivering care to patients would be impossible. It may seem like asking for a financial contribution is asking too much of these valuable colleagues, however you will find that many physicians want to give back to the institutions where they have spent their careers.
Physician Giving Societies offer a way to recognize your physician donors, cultivate a culture of philanthropy, and supply ongoing revenue essential to fueling the work of your physicians.
What Are Physician Giving Societies?
Physician Giving Societies are giving recognition programs which offer special recognition, and often some benefits, to their employed physicians who support the organization philanthropically. These programs at many healthcare organizations have been growing in utilization and popularity over the last decade as a way to recognize and grow philanthropy from their physicians. Much like giving societies recognizing philanthropy by alumni or bequest donors, Physician Giving Societies recognize the unique giving potential of physicians working at your institution.
Why Should You Implement A Physician Giving Society?
A Physician Giving Society can help create a culture of philanthropy at your institution among the physicians who drive your mission. The opportunity to support your organization may be particularly appealing for your longer-term physicians who have built their successful careers at your institution. Honoring their work, and other giving motivations including gratefulness, not only offers an opportunity for you to thank these special, close donors, it can also drive giving among other physicians who are inspired to give once they see a peer supporting your organization philanthropically.
Financially, there is a high likelihood your organization will see increased donations when a successful Physician Giving Society is implemented, with benefits likely extending beyond just more revenue. Many Physician Giving Societies are recurring giving programs, i.e. annual, quarterly, or monthly giving. This scheduled revenue allows your organization to plan based on that anticipated revenue, allowing for longer-term, strategic budgeting for your mission.
After considering the financial benefits, the financial costs of implementing such a program must also be evaluated. As this program will likely mirror similar efforts already underway by your annual giving and/or donor relations teams, you may be able to utilize existing methods and staff to create this new program (and create potential career path growth for your valued colleagues as well!). Some resource investment may be required, but a well designed and marketed Physician Giving Society should recoup those initial investments within a timely manner.
What To Consider When Creating A Physician Giving Society
When examining various successful Physician Giving Societies across the United States, many of them shared similar traits, including:
- A meaningful name: Many institutions choose a notable alumnus, a founding physician, or a past colleague with a historical career to name their Physician Giving Society after. By utilizing the name of a person with close, inspirational ties to your institution, you can further inspire giving in their honor, benefiting your institution’s mission and goals.
- Various giving recognition levels: You can recognize giving at different levels for early-career physicians versus more tenured staff in order to foster a culture of philanthropy early in one’s career. This gives the opportunity to recognize a gift made by those who may still be carrying student loan debt or earning less. Recognizing their giving, even at an entry level, will foster a long-term relationship with your physicians and their philanthropy. Examples include membership to the Physician Giving Society for $1,000 in annual giving for physicians in the first 10 years of their career, and membership at $2,000 for those with a more developed career.
- Recognition: Organizations further utilize a Physician Giving Society to cultivate a culture of philanthropy by offering recognition for membership, such a donor wall in an area of the hospital employees frequent, lapel pins to recognize membership, recognizing new members at staff meetings, or other actions which are meaningful to your organization. Not only do these various activities acknowledge the physician’s meaningful investments in your organization and its mission, they promote awareness of the Physician Giving Society and may inspire others to join the Physician Giving Society.
- Founding members or advising committee members: To launch with momentum and offer direction to the funds raised, many organizations utilize either a founding member model or create a separate advisory committee filled by volunteer donors. A founding member model allows you to launch your Physician Giving Society quietly first, cultivate your most philanthropic physicians, and ask them to be ambassadors for the society during your public launch, having already made their contributions and commitments and becoming members. An advising committee can be created at the time of launch and often direct funds to address the needs of your organization most closely aligned to the philanthropic priorities of your physician donors. Often committee members are donors themselves. Both models may offer comfort to newer donors, that their funds will be well stewarded.
- Recurring benefits or payroll deduction: As these donors will likely be employees of your organization, you can utilize your payroll system to promote regular payroll deductions. Many systems allow employees to choose if they wish to donate each pay period or less frequently. Payroll deduction gifts remove a step from the donor and lift some administrative burden on the development office, as pledge reminders don’t have to be sent out, checks processed, etc.
Physician Giving Societies can provide philanthropic revenue and a grow a culture of philanthropy, often with resources you already utilize in your fundraising operations. Does your organization have a Physician Giving Society in place or are you considering adding one in the future? Leave us a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions.