How to Build a Strong Healthcare Fundraising Program [7 Easy Steps]

September 16, 2020 Brian Isaac

“All I do is special events. I know I need to build a true fundraising program, but I’m not even sure where to start.” 

This is the voice of so many healthcare development staff members who have never ventured into fundraising or gone past event fundraising.

We’re here to tell you that there are many ways to build a robust healthcare fundraising program – and you don’t need a big staff or multi-million-dollar budget.

Once you’ve set up your healthcare fundraising CRM set up, these seven steps should get you on your way to building an effective and dynamic fundraising program.


1. Start with special appeals

To get started, don’t think about a high-dollar capital campaign at the top of a giving pyramid. Think about special appeals efforts that target fewer donors in shorter periods of time.

2. Define the reason, goal, and target audience

Your administration or most respected physician or nurse has likely mentioned a project (also called a case for support) they’d like to initiate.

Here’s where you start small. For example, let’s say your hospital wishes to begin a telemedicine program and you need your community to contribute a total of $100,000 to support it.

Once you have a cause, first define your target audience and reasons they may contribute.

3. Choose 20 potential donors

If this is your first attempt at a true fundraising program, make a list of only 20 people, companies, and foundations in your community who care the most about your hospital and the identified cases for support.

Cast a small net, knowing that the gift sizes are not equal, but they are appropriate to the cause and the donor’s capacity. See how far those 20 donors will take you towards your may be surprised!

Colleagues meeting around a table

4. Find a partner

Once you have  your list of the 20 most interested and financially capable prospects, ask someone you trust – a board member, administrative leader, or physician – who knows these prospects well enough to help you determine the largest gift each donor may consider.

Start with those capable of making the largest gifts, then proceed on to those who might give less.

5. Practice telling your story

Before scheduling your meetings, you need to know and be able to share your story clearly and concisely.

You have a case for support that defines your project, and now you and your buddy in this appeal will want to know all there is to know about the project.

Now, go on-site. Meet with the staff members who know the most about it. Role-play telling other board members the story until it comes off effortlessly. Then tell your story to your identified audience.

6. Kickstart your campaign with initial donations

Nothing sets the standard like a personal commitment. Kick start your campaign by making your own donation!

Ask your CEO and board chair to make their gifts along with you. Your buddy will need to make a gift, too, resulting in progress towards your goal even before the campaign kickoff.

Bonus tip: After initial gifts are made, ask your buddy to make appointments ONLY with those he or she knows well. Always go along to these meetings.

When ready for the ask, simply say, “Would you consider a gift in the range of (determined amount) over two years?”

At this point, stop talking. Don’t fill the silence; let them respond and take it from there.

7. Continuously thank your supporters

Have a thank-you plan in place before you kick off your program.

Determine several ways you will thank each donor over the next year. At least two of these ways should be highly personal, such as handwritten notes and calls from staff and board members.

Schedule coffees, lunches and update donors about the impact of their gifts and the progress you are making toward your goal. Keep them engaged and it's very likely you could secure a recurring donor.


Healthcare fundraising has long been dominated by galas, golf tournaments, and run/walk/ride events. But now savvy organisations are realising they can raise more money in less time by implementing a true fundraising program.

A simple, manageable fundraising program, combined with a few key events, will win rave reviews from your board and donors.

And your CEO will love you for it.

Learn more about how you can take your healthcare organisation to new heights



For more information about healthcare fundraising, visit our Healthcare Solutions Resource Hub at

This post has been adapted from its original version, Hit Your Fundraising Goal in 7 Steps, Instead of 7 Events, published in November 2019 by June Bradham, CFRE, Blackbaud Healthcare Solutions.

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