From Gratitude to Giving

Anna Schnetzer

Some of the most meaningful donations come from a place of gratitude. For Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS), much of that gratitude can be witnessed through the Grateful Patient Program, an RBHS major gifts program benefitting Rutgers Health.

On July 15th, the Futures in Advancement interns had the opportunity to hear from Lisa English, Associate Vice President for RBHS Advancement Services, and Asiya Fricke, Assistant Director of Grateful Patient Development, about this robust and growing program. Creating a pipeline for gifts of over $25,000, the Grateful Patient Program provides opportunities for patients of Rutgers Health physicians to extend their gratitude. These gifts directly support the programs and research conducted by the physician to further improve patient care and treatment.

After a series of speaker sessions with other Foundation staff surrounding alumni donor engagement and solicitation, it was interesting to be able to explore a new side of development that’s supported by those outside of a classic pool list of graduates. Involving conversations surrounding an individual’s health and medical experiences, Lisa spoke to how the Grateful Patient Program has higher stakes and is often much more emotional, requiring a greater level of empathy. When making patient calls, Asiya shared that remaining empathetic and patient, and actively listening are her main concerns. While these phone calls act as a pipeline for major gifts, ultimately, the priority is to make a connection with the patient through these authentic, person-centered conversations and give them a space to share their experience. For this reason, Lisa stated that the Grateful Patient Program is arguably its own skillset.

One way in which the Grateful Patient Program is similar to other programs at the Foundation, however, is in the amount of collaboration that takes place. The Grateful Patient Program would not be what it is today without the help of various teams across RBHS. To name a few, prospect development, communications, frontline fundraisers, and Foundation IT all play a vital role in this multi-stage process. From qualifying prospects to closing gifts, each team contributes distinct, yet equally valuable functions that lead to the success of the program and new milestones. This further solidifies the notion that we’ve learned throughout the course of this internship that the opportunities within development are endless – it’s just a matter of finding your niche where your interests and strong suits intersect.

On behalf of the Futures of Advancement interns, I would like to thank Lisa and Asiya once again for giving us the opportunity to learn about this meaningful program and all the work that goes into making it such a success!

Anna Schnetzer is a Futures in Advancement Intern with the Rutgers Biomedical & Health Sciences team

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