Quick Takes

Harvey Green
Harvey Green, FAHP, CFRE

Harvey Green is Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer of WellSpan Health, an integrated health delivery system serving South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland. He provides executive and strategic leadership for philanthropy including planning, directing and implementing a strategic fundraising development program for initiatives that help advance the delivery of innovative healthcare in the region.

“At WellSpan Health, we provide exceptional healthcare designed around every patient— their needs, their story, their life.”

What are the challenges or issues for healthcare philanthropy professionals? What are you currently facing?

Similar to what the healthcare industry is dealing with, healthcare philanthropy professionals are facing challenges with respect to recruiting team members.

Arguably, like other industries, there’s an arms race occurring in the non-profit sector. There’s a saying that for every marketable fundraising professional, there are at least five jobs available. This imbalance of supply versus demand drives up the market for compensation. A job posting that may be literally right across the street from my organization may pay ten to 20% more in salary for the exact same role.
That is a challenge!

Faced with this ‘sellers’ market, many managers are trying to find the right strategies to attract the right people knowing that there is a lot of competition for talent.

In addition to fierce competition in the job market, hiring managers are faced with recruitment nuances in the post-pandemic landscape. Many candidates are now wanting flexible and remote work options. The second or third question I usually get from candidates is, “Can I work from home?”

In an industry that has traditionally been very much boots-on-the ground, requiring face-to-face and personal interactions, requests for flexibility in working options add another layer that managers must reconcile. Thankfully, some leaders have settled into the fact that they will have to be flexible to be able to put themselves in the running. However, it’s an interesting dilemma because fundraising has been viewed as an ‘in-person’ business where there are times we just cannot ‘phone it in.’

The last point regarding recruiting: it is not a spectator sport. As managers and leaders, we should be proactive and creative in the search for talent. This may mean getting on an airplane to personally meet with the candidate that you want on your team. We must continue to bring creativity to our recruiting process and get potential team members excited about joining us.

Recruitment is an enormous challenge. What about retention of those recruits?

The challenges of recruitment and retention are inextricably linked. Once the right person joins an organization, other crucial factors come into play: providing effective professional development opportunities and strategic career pathing. If we put all our efforts into recruiting and drop the ball on ‘keeping people,’ we may find that the people we worked so hard to attract unexplainably leave.

So, retention is an especially important part of the equation.

We know that like the tech industry, the average length of stay for philanthropic positions is between 18 and 24 months. That is not exceptionally long, so turnover is abound. To help stem this tide, we not only have to create job descriptions and annual plans for the roles we want to recruit for, in tandem, we must build out effective orientation and growth plans for the professionals who join us.

Effective recruitment and retention of employees are the two biggest factors that will shape the future of our profession.

How did the pandemic affect your philanthropic activities?

We were in the habit of doing events and one-on-one relationship building. The pandemic changed much of that; however, we were able to mitigate some of the pandemic’s impact by using remote technology.

Post-pandemic, we need to either reacclimate ourselves to the long-held belief that working in philanthropy is a personal, relationship building endeavor, or rethink whether what we ‘used’ to do is the best approach now.

What has remained constant is this: donors really want to be engaged in the efforts they support. Is it best to have donors feel connected through events? Or is it the more intimate gatherings that highlight the programs they are enthusiastic about? These are questions that all development professionals continue to grapple with. We know some of our bigger events require lots of staff and volunteer hours; however, they may have a low return on investment.

The pandemic has certainly accelerated the evaluation of the types of activities that we conduct. Effectively stewarding, cultivating and developing our donor base in a manner that is prudent with organization resources is an important consideration to the sustainability of our efforts.

How can you build a culture of philanthropy in an organization?

That involves recasting philanthropy from being viewed as a ‘nice to have activity’ to recognizing it as a viable way to diversify revenue.

Traditionally, fundraising in community hospital settings was more of a ‘one off’ effort. Raising money for a piece of equipment or program through either a golf tournament or annual fundraising drive was standard. While these efforts created a ‘warm and fuzzy feeling,’ they were not always strategic or focused on transformational giving.

We know philanthropy is not a panacea to the economic headwinds that face the healthcare sector; however, the heightened awareness around the power of philanthropy can demonstrate impressive results. The cost to raise a dollar is much lower in the philanthropy department versus the investments to run clinical operations.

WellSpan Health is on an upward trajectory in building their philanthropy program. While the dollars are important, we recognize that what underpins our efforts is fostering a culture that acknowledges gratitude.

Members within the community who are grateful for the care they received at WellSpan deserve a choice to honor their experience. This can be in the form of sharing their story, offering their expertise, or perhaps making a gift. We must help our caregivers be attuned to these cues, coach them on how to respond, and encourage them to work with the philanthropy department.

We as a philanthropy team are creating seamless ways for our caregivers to connect with us should they encounter someone who wants to give back. We believe that the idea that giving back can be a form of healing and restoration for those we serve. As a healthcare organization that provides care, we should keep in mind that philanthropy can play a part of the continuum of care that we provide.

Lastly, as philanthropy professionals, we are in a privileged position to help advance the health and well-being of our communities. Given this distinct honor, it is my hope that we all rise to the challenge of finding innovative ways to enhance the impact of our efforts.

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