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Tough Economy No Excuse for Lax Fundraising

Rene Letourneau, for HealthLeaders Media, November 18, 2013

A development executive at a Maine hospital argues that a soft economy is no reason to miss fundraising goals. Chief development officers and CEOs must simply work harder to refine their strategies and solidify relationships with donors, she says.

It may be more difficult for hospitals and health systems to fundraise during tough economic times, but it is still possible. That's what one hospital executive recently told me during a conversation about philanthropy and what it takes to achieve fundraising goals when the economy is not on your side.

"You have to work smarter, and you have to work harder," says Susan Doliner, vice president of development at Maine Medical Center, a 600-bed hospital in Portland.

Doliner says when the economy is soft, healthcare development staffs have to spend more time with their major donors to shore up those relationships.

"You make more visits. Your donor relationships have to be more frequent. You have to keep them informed. Transparency is really important these days," she says. "You have to have good philanthropy in place, and it has to be sustainable and impactful. And there is nothing more important than healthcare. When the economy is bad, we have to remind people what is so important about healthcare."

Giving individual attention to each major donor is also important, Doliner says.

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