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3 strategic shifts to accelerate hospital acquisition growth

The current fundraising landscape has brought a major pain point for many nonprofit organizations—a decline in acquisition. 

Many hospitals haven’t been immune to the challenge. In fact, their regionalized donor base and reach have given an added layer of complexity to the problem. Unlike many national brands, the sky isn’t the limit in terms of available, viable audiences for most hospitals. 

The current limitations don’t mean you should cut acquisition completely—they've just required us to take a step back and shift our approach. 

For several of our hospital clients, this has looked like leaning into cultivation and lapsed recapture to drive retention and reactivation rates. Here’s a look at some of the tactical and strategic shifts we’re making to accelerate results: 

Lean in to lapsed recapture 

Since traditional acquisition hasn’t been performing at its historical levels, many of our clients are leaning into lapsed recapture and patient acquisition. 

Rather than investing more into list purchases, we’re spending resources on donors who have had a relationship with the organization previously by strategically targeting lapsed audiences. 

Through RKD’s predictive intelligence tool Velocity, we’re identifying lapsed audiences with the best chance for reactivation. We’ve found that even deeply lapsed audiences have responded better than traditional acquisition in the current landscape.  

Test wealthier carrier routes 

If your hospital is mailing into smaller regions, several of our clients have seen success in testing small panels of carrier routes in wealthy zip codes. 

Although prospects in this area might not have given before or aren’t popping up in a co-op, their carrier route indicates that they have the capacity to give on a higher level than a standard acquisition audience.  

Because of this, rather than sending a standard acquisition package, we’ve tested high-touch formal packages to these clusters in hopes that they can move into mid and major audiences down the road.  

In fact, one hospital we partner with saw strong results using this approach, with a $91.76 average gift, and a response rate that was 84% higher than traditional rental lists when you factor in cost. 

Due to the cost, this tactic couldn’t ever replace traditional acquisition, but it’s a great supplemental tactic and strategic move to build relationships with donors who are more likely to move up the pyramid. 

Prioritize the period immediately following acquisition 

We know that donors who give their second gift within the first year are more likely to retain. Therefore, while investing in acquisition is extremely important, it’s equally important to emphasize stewardship and cultivation. 

For the donors acquired in the high-wealth carrier routes, we’re adding them into our mid-level prospecting lists for stewardship and cultivation. Because these donors have the capacity to give larger gifts, we recommend automatically adding them to your call and screening lists to start strengthening those relationships. Personalized notes and phone calls go a long way for mid-level prospects. 

The current fundraising landscape has made acquisition a challenge, but hospitals that can lean into lapsed recapture, test new audience targeting and prioritize stewardship can drive long-term retention rates and growth. 


Additional Resources: 

Stephanie Kirk

As Vice President, Client Strategy at RKD Group, Stephanie is the heartbeat of her clients' fundraising programs. This includes working closely on budget, projections and optimization planning, as well as keeping a pulse on program performance and making course corrections as necessary to ensure that objectives are met. Stephanie has 15 years of experience as a client services professional. Her career includes a successful track record of improving results for charitable causes, and she takes her clients' missions to heart, seeking to understand who they serve and drawing inspiration from what they do each day.



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