4imprint, LLC

Separating your healthcare organization from the rest
Healthcare care today is not what it used to be. Advances in science and technology are changing the quality of care offered by hospitals and clinics and prolonging the lives of patients. These advances don’t come cheaply, though, and oftentimes government dollars don’t go far enough. That’s why so many Canadian hospitals rely on savvy marketing and communications plans to appeal to donors and raise the funds required to lead to these all-important medical breakthroughs.Unfortunately, last year’s economic downturn took its toll on hospital fundraising efforts. Nationally, hospitals reported an average drop in donations of a staggering 12.9% in 2009. That means hospitals are going to have to step up their efforts this year to get back on track. Healthcare care organizations that wish to meet and even exceed their fundraising targets must be sure to appeal and communicate to existing and potential donors, setting themselves apart and providing substantial reasons for people to choose to give to them over other organizations.So how can your organization ensure that you’re connecting with the right audiences in a relevant way?

1. Research
Has your marketing or communications department considered conducting preliminary research to determine who these potential new donors are and how best to reach them? Research current donors in order to discern which qualities drew them to your organization initially and what their general opinion of your image, initiatives or care is.

2. Segment, segment, segment
One message does not fit all. Different audiences are likely to be most receptive to certain messages and not others. Figure out who your core segments are, and then tailor your marketing efforts as needed. If one of your segments is health-conscious folks, send them a direct mail that includes a relevant takeaway, like an All-Week Pill box for medicines or vitamins. Appeal to the active crowd by rewarding loyal donors with a branded tote bag that they can take to the gym.

3. Differentiate your organization from others
Whether it’s national recognition, industry awards, quality of care, state-of-the-art equipment or a specialty no one else offers, let donors know what sets you apart. Allow website visitors to tour facilities or view pictures online and prominently mention or feature these qualities in other fundraising materials. If the yearly lists come out and your organization is on top, spread the word even further by offering staff branded celebratory gifts like Star-Shaped Stress Balls or branded pens that mention the award to promote awareness and word of mouth among visiting donors and prospects.

4. Avoid information overload
Some research has shown that healthcare care donors prefer simplicity when making decisions about their care. Don’t just avoid jargon in your healthcare care organization’s marketing messages, make your points easy to relate to and easy to understand.

5. Become storytellers, reward storytellers
Find real stories to use as a basis for marketing or include testimonials in print materials, advertisements and on all pages of your website to show donors and prospects that their contributions truly make an impact. Go further to recruit patients to tell their own stories about your healthcare care organization on your behalf. This can be done through simple referral programs to grow word of mouth or through interactive social media efforts that encourage patients to upload their own videos, images and blogs documenting their experiences with your organization. Consider small giveaways to current donors who consistently refer new donors, like Pedometers or T-Shirts paired with a personalized thank-you note.
Don’t overlook your pool of donors—reach out to them, appeal to them and thank them. They are part of your success, and their inclusion in meaningful fundraising efforts will help to ensure that they always will be.

Swayze, Kevin. “Cambridge Hospital Fundraising Struggled Last Year; Kitchener Hospitals Beat Expectations.TheRecord.com. Metroland Media Group Ltd., 10 Apr. 2010. Web. 09 Apr. 2010.
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