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Roundtable – Cultivation: Client Relations

Cultivation: Client Relations
Notes provided by: Ryan Harms, Iowa State University

  • Working with hospital staff
    • Hospital database
      • Identify list of top donors and other VIPs to be coded in hospital client database. Have front desk staff call development office when VIP arrives for appointment
      • Florida has a “concierge service” that is based on total giving to the university and provides upgraded service while at hospital
      • Client relations DOD has access to daily hospital schedule. Reviews list of clients for wealth potential, then establish relationship while at hospital. Call to follow-up on their service and ask for a personal visit.
      • Include option on hospital survey where they can select if they are interested in learning more about ways the client can support the hospital
        • Wisconsin has “Comment Card” boxes in waiting areas where clients can provide their comments and indicate if they want more information
  • Clinicians
    • Meet with each section twice per year to discuss potential referral of clients
    • Train clinicians and other hospital staff on what to listen for from clients that might indicate that they are a potential donor
    • Ask each section to identify their top five clients that could be solicited for specific funding needs (equipment, etc.)
    • Wisconsin has several “Referral Boxes” around the hospital where clinicians and other hospital staff can fill out a short form referring a client who may be interested in providing additional support
  • Referring veterinarians
    • While personally visiting referring veterinarians, DODs should ask for leads of clients who may be interested in supporting hospital
    • A strategy is to ask clients to make a gift in honor of their local veterinarian
  • Creating a culture of philanthropy
    • Need to continue to meet with hospital staff to keep them engaged in philanthropy
    • Highlight gifts that have some in as a result of clinician partnership
    • Consider ways to make it easy for clinicians and clients to see the impact of philanthropy at the hospital (video boards, brochures, naming of rooms, engraved bricks, etc.)
    • Many great gifts are received from clients whose pet has passed away but are appreciative of the care they received at the hospital
    • Difference in client types
      • Food animal: Smaller number of clients. Have more of a passion for the training of students and equipment needs
      • Small animal: Emotional tie to their pet and the care their pet received at the hospital
      • Equine: Very tight knit community. Focused on support of equine section


Round Table Discussion Group:  Client Relations
Tuesday 7/23/13
10:10 – 11:10 am
Moderator Notes Provided by:  Becky Hershey

Discussion Starters

  • How to work with new clients
  • How to keep faculty involved
  • Creating welcome packets and hospital surveys
  • What works what doesn’t
  • Successful phone solicitations
  • Introducing development
  • How to keep clients grateful


  •  Grateful Clients programs with development person residing in hospital – MSU, Florida, WSU
  • Florida has volunteers (retired faculty, widows of faculty, etc) who help talk to clients in the waiting room/reception area of hospital; provide assistance with restaurants, hotels – and will even try to get a status on their patient
  • Encourage development staff to attend faculty meetings, build relationships with clinicians, interns and residents – they are your greatest partners. Need to build trust.
  • Other CVM’s use programs such as Pet Tribute Plaques (Tufts) and Pet Tribute Garden (Purdue) as an entry point for client gifts. Steward well by sending photos of plaque and a thank you note.
  • Keep brochure rack in waiting area and exam rooms filled with program brochures: planned giving, tribute plaques, general college info, grateful client, in memoriam cards, etc.
  • Work with front desk reception staff to get an appointment listing for clients. Look at client list and make a point to introduce yourself and make connection with them. Continue to follow up after appt.
  • Surveys – hospital staff send out surveys not development office. Purdue includes a question about ‘would you be interested in speaking with the development office about a gift’ and the group recommended to take that off.  It’s better to not include that type of question on the survey. WSU/Kay Glaser sends out a solicitation letter to clients 30 days after their hospital visit. Survey information about client experiences should be shared with development office.


Cultivation: Client Relations
July 23, 2013
Notes provided by: LSU Team

  • Most hospitals have a development person IN the hospital.
  • Florida and Tufts have volunteers that sit in the waiting room. They strike up conversation with clients and help any way they can. Most are older ladies and gentlemen.
  • The most important resource is the hospital faculty. It is crucial to know the faculty and earn their trust.
    • If a faculty member recommends a prospect, always follow up with that faculty member after the visit.
    • Florida’s hospital person informs the prospect they were recommended by a faculty member. She finds this usually flatters the prospect and helps start the conversation.
  • Serenity Garden
    • Tufts sends a picture of the client’s brick once it has been installed in their garden. They also invite the client to return to campus to view the brick in person.
  • Many universities have a brochure rack in the waiting room. Some have brochures in the exam rooms as well.
  • Florida has “pop up” notes for the VIP clients in their database. So when a VIP client makes and appointment, the VTH staff member will call a development person to greet the client.
  • Follow up surveys are sent out by the hospitals, NOT the development office. These surveys are service oriented. The hospital then sends the feedback to the development office.
  • Many universities include pictures on their thank you letters. Washington has personalized letters for each service. For example, if the letter is going out to a client that visited oncology, their letter would include pictures of the oncology technician bringing a patient to the back.
  • Washington sends a letter to clients 30 days after their visit. The letter includes an ask. If the hospital development person visited with the client or they have made a gift in the past, the letter includes a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • If someone writes a glowing review in their survey, they follow up with a phone call.  They then ask for permission to use their comments in a publication (i.e., newsletter, annual report, etc.).
  • Tufts brings their student callers (our “Tiger Talkers”) to visit the SVM/VTH before the phoneathon begins. This gives the students a better understanding of the school.
  • When making a phone call, the group agreed it is best not to blurt out your entire professional title. Just simple say, “I am calling from the LSU Veterinary School.” But they always make it very clear they are not a clinician.
  • Many hospitals are looking into ways to improve their waiting room. Clients spend hours waiting on their pets and the environment should be welcoming.


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