Securing Your Patients' Next Gifts with Donor Welcome Kits | npENGAGE

Securing Your Patients’ Next Gifts with Donor Welcome Kits

By on Aug 2, 2018


As most hospital foundations might know, getting the first donation from a patient is often the easy part. Where it gets difficult is securing the second and successive gifts. 

There are primarily 3 factors that explain this challenge: 

  • Recency effects: As time goes on, memory of care at the hospital fades, reducing the stimulus that contributed to the first gift and would contribute to a possible second gift; 
  • Transactional nature of the gift: A patient-donor might envision their first gift as a unique gift, a gift to be made only when they use the hospital, rather than multiple gifts to be made regardless of whether they use the hospital again; 
  • Competition from other charities: Donors are being bombarded by solicitations from other charities, both those they had a connection with prior to the visit to the hospital, and those they have a connection with after the visit to the hospital. The hospital foundation now enters into the donor’s headspace and portfolio of causes that are vying for attention. 


Donor Welcome Kit is the perfect solution to help combat these factors. It typically contains: 

  1. Welcome Letter: The purpose of this document is to correct the transactional nature of the first gift. This letter should, as much as possible, tie the first gift to continued support of the hospital. If possible, it should include any notes the donor might have passed along with their first gift, along with mentioning any project or department in which the first gift was made.
  2. Survey: The purpose of the survey is to get as much actionable information from the donor to target future solicitations better than the competition. Possible questions include the following (*also see the end of this article for a sample survey):

a. What prompted the first gift?
b. What areas of the foundation’s mission most interest the donor?
c. What is most important for the donor to know when making a gift to a charity?
d. What is the donor’s story and would they serve as a spokesperson for hospital services?

  1. A “value-added premium, or giveaway item: This is a premium, connected to the mission of the foundation, that incorporates healthcare and adds value to the life of the donor.  Good healthcare-related options might include first-aid kits, bookmarks including first-aid information, or a portable magnifying glasses (for older donors). 

    Here’s what these “value-added premiums” will do: 

a. Counteract recency effects: If these are properly branded the donor will essentially be holding on to a reminder of the hospital and the care they received there;
Counteract the transactional nature of the gift: The receiving of a gift given, without being asked for anything in return, pushes for a more generous mindset;
Counteract competition from other charities: A physical reminder of the foundation and the cause is the perfect “hearts and mind” tool to capture part of the donor’s psychic real estate by serving as a reminder of the donor’s past support of the cause. 


There are two key measures of the success of the Donor Welcome Kit: 

  1. Donor feedback: This is an indicator of the level of engagement that donors have with the donor welcome kit and the organization. This feedback must always be used judiciously to improve the donor welcome Kit and increase engagement.  

       Key questions to explore:  

a. Are a higher percentage of donors for or against the idea of a donor welcome kit? 
Do they believe it is a good use of donor funds? 
Are they satisfied with the current choice of “value-added premium”?
Can they suggest examples of other useful information they would like to receive? 
Can they suggest other types of premiums they would like to receive?

To properly evaluate all feedback, look for trends between the feedback and the socio-demographic profile/age/gender and other characteristics of the donor.  If there are any trends, there might be space to segment even further into the type of donor welcome Kit that goes out. 

2. Securing the second and successive giftsThis is an indicator of how much the donor engagement        has transformed into subsequent financial support. 

Key metrics to explore: 

a. Conversion rate to second gift (after a follow-up solicitation is left)
b. Difference in gift amount between first and second gift


We developed the following chart to help our organization track and evaluate the donor kits’ impact on giving: 

Difference in gift amount between first and second gift                                                                                                                                                                             Conversion rate to second gift (after a follow-up solicitation is left)
Increase No change Decrease
Increase  Donors are more engaged and giving more.  

Follow-up: Bask in the glory 

While the conversion rate of first to second gift hasn’t changed, the Donor Welcome Kit is engaging better with certain segments of the donor base who have increased their giving amounts.  

Follow-up: Fine-tune the kit and subsequent solicitations for non-responsive segments to make the case for making a subsequent gift. 

While the conversion rate of first to second gift has decreased, the Donor Welcome Kit is engaging better with certain segments of the donor base who have increased their giving amounts.  

Follow-up: Fine-tune the kit and subsequent solicitations for non-responsive segments to make the case for making a subsequent gift. 

No change  Donors are more engaged but are probably already giving at their maximum giving level.  

Follow-up: Fine-tune the kit and subsequent solicitations to make the case for higher giving amounts.             

The Donor Welcome Kit could either be making no difference or correcting for donor drop-offs at a constant rate.  

Follow-up: Fine-tune the kit and subsequent solicitations for non-responsive segments to make the case for making a subsequent gift. 

Donors are engaged less but giving the same.  

Follow-up: Remove the Donor Welcome Kit and reassess. 

Decrease  Donors are more engaged but cannot sustain their first gift amount.  

Follow-up: Fine-tune the kit and subsequent solicitations to make the case for higher giving amounts.                                                                                                                 

Donors are engaged the same but giving less.  

Follow-up: Remove the Donor Welcome Kit and reassess. 

Donors are less engaged and giving less.  

Follow-up: Remove the Donor Welcome Kit and reassess. 

Similar donor welcome kits can also be produced for specific gift streams (e.g. Events, P2P, etc.). The reason these tailored kits might work better than sending these donors the standard welcome kit is that they are personalized to the reason they first donated to the Foundation. First-time donors for an event geared towards cardiology might have their donor welcome kits specifically mention the event, and contain value-added premiums connected to cardiology (e.g. a stress ball). 

Ultimately, a well-crafted and designed Donor Welcome Kit will help secure the second gift from the former patient, and push towards a lifetime of giving. 


*Sample survey: 

  1. What prompted your first gift to the Foundation? (Please check all that apply) 
  • I am/I was a patient   
  • A loved one is/was a patient   
  • I am/was an employee 
  • Special interest in a particular program or project 
  • Gift in memory/honour/ recognition of someone 
  • I received a mailing from the Foundation   
  • I attended a Foundation event. Which one?
  • Other:


2.What do you think is the primary problem in healthcare in our community? ___________________________________________


3. What areas of care at the [Hospital] are of most interest to you? (please select all that apply) 

  • Women’s Health   
  • Cancer/ Oncology 
  • Diagnostic Imaging 
  • Surgery   
  • Breast Health 


  • Research 
  • Heart Disease 
  • Patient Education 
  • Eye Care 
  • Other:


 4. When making a gift donation to a charity, what is most important for you to know? (please select all that apply)  

  • How quickly and accurately my gift will be acknowledged (i.e. – a letter and/or phone call from the foundation)  
  • How I will be recognized for my gift  
  • Whether or not the foundation will keep me informed about how my gift is being used  
  • Whether or not any of my gift will be used on overhead expenses  
  • Whether or not the foundation will ask me for another gift too soon


5. Which of these types of recognition are the most important to you? (Please check all that apply.) 

  • Note from Foundation staff or board member 
  • Note from a patient or physician 
  • Phone call from Foundation staff or board member 
  • Invitation to Foundation events at the hospital 
  • My name listed in Foundation publications (like Annual Report or newsletter) 
  • My name listed on a donor wall 
  • Tour of the hospital or Research Institute 
  • Meeting with hospital leaders


6. Share your story with us! Tell us why the hospital matters to you: ________________________


7. I would be willing to share my experience with others in the community.  

  • Yes 
  • No


8. Is there anything we can do to make your experience as a friend of the hospital a better one? ________________________________________________



Khalil Guliwala is the Development Officer overseeing Annual Giving at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation in Quebec, Canada. This foundation connects donors to one of the world’s foremost academic health centres affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University. 

He is a non-profit data analyst and communications specialist with 6 years of experience spearheading complex data analysis and writing for external, internal, and fundraising publications. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Nature Canada, one of Canada’s leading environmental NGOs. 

Comments (1)

  • Karen Tuecke says:

    Great article!! The idea of donor welcome kits could be used in any industry. I work for a religious organization and we have one time donors to memorialize the Sisters that reside here and then our recurring donors that give to the cause. We have seen an increase in donor gifts, specifically the recurring gifts, because we brought personalization back (over the last four years). Thank you for the additional tips and recommendations in your blog.

    This has assisted us in sustainability and growth. Please check out my bog:

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