Trends in Healthcare Philanthropy for 2021

Trends in Healthcare Philanthropy Reveal the Need to Focus on Donor Retention

By on Apr 30, 2021


healthcare fundraising

2020 brought an inflection point in history that is providing an exponential opportunity for healthcare philanthropy. We saw healthcare become universally top-of-mind, influencing individuals to shift to more intentional giving and adopt online fundraising.  

These trends offer healthcare organizations the opportunity to grow this donor support through stewardship and retention.  



Analysis of Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® data from U.S. healthcare organizations that raised more than $1M in at least one of the past three calendar years reveals three main trends: 

  1. Trend: Outpouring of Support

Community hospitals experienced a surge in goodwill, resulting in an influx of in-kind donations, largely coordinated by hospital foundation staff who stepped up to help in any way possible.

    • Healthcare organizations raised $4.9B in cash in 2020, a year-over-year increase of 2.7%
    • In-kind donations to healthcare organizations topped $170M, increasing by 61% in 2020
  1. Trend: Fewer Donors, Larger Gifts

Since 2011, the Blackbaud Institute has continued to see a decline in number of households donating, but an increase in total donations. This trend was accelerated in 2020.

    • 75% of healthcare organizations received fewer donations in 2020 than in 2019.
    • 46% of healthcare organizations increased dollars raised in 2020.
  1. Trend: Online Fundraising Explodes

Healthcare fundraisers were among the first to be shifted to remote work and may continue to rely on virtual meetings and donor tours into the future, accelerating the idea of e-philanthropy—a full strategy shift to a virtual mindset.

    • 7% year-over-year increase in online revenue for healthcare organizations
    • 66% retention rate for multi-year, online-only donors

Dig deeper into the data in this on-demand webinar: 2020 Trends in Healthcare Fundraising that Present Opportunities for 2021 



This influx of new donors and shift to more intentional giving is really a growing call to prioritize donor retention. With purposeful stewardship, you can convert these new and upgraded donors to long-term supporters and, by demonstrating the value of giving to your healthcare organization, you can cultivate and grow intentional gifts.  

Over the past 15 years (through 2020)Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT data shows that overall retention in the healthcare sector has inched upward, though it is still consistently one of the lowest donor retention rates by sectoroffering fundraisers a huge opportunity for improvement. 

Donor retention is much stronger for multi-year, online-only donors. According to the Blackbaud Institute 2020 Charitable Giving Reportthe retention rate for these donors is 66%. The first-year, online-only donor retention rate is 25%. This really points to a multi-channel approach of stewardship, and shows the need for healthcare organizations to build recurring monthly donor programs, which gain significantly greater value than acquiring replacement donors. 

Visualize the data in this new Healthcare Fundraising Trends infographic. 



 I challenge you to rethink change and embrace the opportunity to focus on stewardship within your organization. 

Leveraging moves management best practices is one of the best ways to retain and steward these donors and where possible, move them up in their giving. If you have a strong moves management program, then you are already in great shape and should double down on what you are doing well. If you feel like your moves management program could be stronger, use this data to make the case.  

With the data reinforcing your focus on major donors, be sure to have thoughtful stewardship plans for your next generation of major donorsFor example, $1,000 Gen X and Millennial donors are great prospects for larger commitments. Create special stewardship opportunities, like a mid-level giving society, so they are primed when the time comes. 

As part of your stewardship plan, include impact reports and balance statements, which give donors confidence their gift is used as intended and increase their likelihood to give again. Work with your finance team to use this information. 

Many “COVID donors” were new donors to healthcare or made in-kind gifts. Use predictive modeling to better understand them and craft appropriate stewardship plans.  

These donors need to see how their donations benefitted the community and understand how they can partner with your organization, whether it is financially, as a volunteer, or in another capacity. The donors who are intentionally giving to you need to feel really good about their association with your organization. For healthcare in particular, use the amazing stories you have to tell, knowing that with COVID, they’re that much more amplified. 

There are incredible opportunities for healthcare fundraisers and I am excited to see what 2021 brings! 


As President and General Manager, Page Bullington oversees the overall business strategy, company sales, marketing and partner development for Blackbaud Healthcare Solutions. The team includes the sales and marketing of cloud-based and on-premise solutions specifically beneficial for the healthcare market, allowing these entities to increase revenue, reduce costs and enhance increased constituent relationships.  

Before this role, Page was Director of Healthcare Solutions at Blackbaud, leveraging her extensive analytics experience to oversee the solution marketing for the Blackbaud healthcare team. The US and Canada territories include hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Care Centers, Post-Acute facilities and healthcare philanthropic foundations. 

Joining Blackbaud in 2007, Page Bullington served as a strategic fundraising consultant in the Target Analytics division. Since then, she has held several key leadership roles including Director of Professional Services and Support, as well as Director of Solution Management and Marketing. Among her accomplishments are conceptualizing and launching Fundraising Essentials, the Principal Giving Solution and the Grateful Patient Solution. Prior to Blackbaud, Page was Grants Director for Roper St. Francis Healthcare in Charleston, SC, specializing in grant writing and corporate gift funding. Her background also includes work with The National Beta Club, United States Congress, Corporate DevelopMint and the Joseph P. Riley Institute for Public Policy. She has extensive experience working in the nonprofit industry, specifically with educational, healthcare and political organizations. Her expertise centers on fundraising analytics, membership development, major gift and principal gift fundraising, patient fundraising and grants based funding initiatives. 

Page has a Masters of Public Administration from the College of Charleston with a concentration in nonprofit management, and a BA in English Literature from the Honors College of Winthrop University. She is also board member for HALOS of Charleston and the Palmetto Military Support Group. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *