Popular prospect identification strategies favor baby boomers and miss Generation X and millennial opportunities. As a result, development staff are perpetuating the current pipeline while delaying the necessary steps to engage new donors. There are three ways this happens:
Physician referrals of grateful patients
Current state: Inpatient, high-acuity patients
Future state: Addition of outpatients, telehealth patients, and family members
Most grateful patient referral programs focus attention on inpatient admissions, overlooking the younger generations, who are much more likely to use retail clinics, urgent care sites, and telehealth. An Advisory Board consumer survey found that 37% of millennials used a virtual care visit during the Covid-19 pandemic, as compared to only 23% of baby boomers. Consider coaching physicians who see patients at alternate care sites—including virtual care—about recognizing and responding to expressions of gratitude.
Development professionals should also encourage providers to pay attention to gratitude from family members, who often develop a greater level of philanthropic interest than patients themselves. These family members frequently make decisions on a patient’s care, and they are disproportionately Generation X or millennials. Examples include: spouses, children of older patients, and parents of pediatric patients.
Foundation board referrals of donor prospects
Current state: Long-standing donors, elder community members
Future state: Addition of new donors, rising young community members
Volunteer leaders are a great resource for identifying potential donors, but it’s inevitable that peers will refer peers. Most foundation boards are ill-equipped to refer younger donor prospects due to a lack of youthful representation on foundation boards themselves. In fact, health nonprofit boards are among the oldest, with only 13.6% of board members under the age of 40. Boards should be diversified in a number of ways, including age, to expand the universe of potential supporters as the generational shift unfolds.
Wealth screening of patient census
Current state: Inpatient census
Future state: Addition of alternate care sites
Traditional wealth screening focuses predominantly on the inpatient census, despite site-of-care shifts that have been ongoing for some time. By focusing on inpatients, development teams miss younger patients who use alternative care sites. In addition, they miss grateful family members, who are disproportionately young relative to the actual patient population. Consider screening select outpatients and telehealth users.