What Physicians Think About Philanthropy

Physician partnerships are invaluable for philanthropy teams. Doctors can refer grateful patients, build a case for funding, and sometimes even participate in the ask. For many development programs, physician engagement is a leading strategy—and a leading challenge.

To provide new insights on building effective clinical partnerships, the Philanthropy Leadership Council conducted a survey of 262 physicians at two hospitals. The survey asked these doctors about themselves, their perceptions of their hospital, and their involvement with philanthropy, if any. Their answers fact-checked common assumptions about what doctors think and identified a roadmap for better partnerships.

This report details three new, data-based insights about why and how physicians are motivated (or not) to participate in philanthropy activities.

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Make more asks—doctors are ready to do more (p. 11).
There is significant potential for more and deeper partnerships between philanthropy and physicians. The biggest reason for not being involved, identified by 60% of respondents, was that “nobody asks them to participate”—about three times as common as any other barrier.

Focus on motivated physicians (p. 15).
Physicians identifying as motivated are three times as likely to refer patients as respondents who identified as currently active but unlikely to get more involved. Focusing on physicians who are motivated to get more involved will be a positive investment of time for philanthropy teams.

Show impact of philanthropy involvement, especially on patients (p. 17).
Doctors are motivated when they believe their philanthropy efforts improve their hospital. The most motivated doctors are those who believe that their involvement leads to better patient care.

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