Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hospital charity distributing planned gift pledge forms before all major surgeries

Waiting to make their Planned Giving pitch

Metro’s largest hospital is introducing a new, cutting edge planned gifts initiative. The Metro Hospital Foundation says it will begin pitching planned gifts through brochures, signs and videos to patients about to undergo major surgery.

The new program, called Last Rights, will focus on telling patients about the important legacy a gift to the hospital would mean if they should die because of their illness, injury or malpractice. Foundation CEO Dennis Snidely says they are giving patients the opportunity to give and make what might be their last conscious decision before leaving this world.

“These potential donors deserve the chance to make one more, perhaps final gift to Metro Hospital before they pass on. That’s why we’re calling it Last Rights. These donors have the right to make a planned gift even as they are put the sleep before surgery not knowing if they will ever wake up,” said Snidely.

The program was test piloted on the Intensive Care Unit for two months earlier this year. Patients were given brochures to read and signs were placed on the IV bags and poles. As well, the Foundation partnered with the hospital’s Chaplain Service to mention the program at the patient’s bedside.  Snidely says the results were better than they hoped for.

“We anticipated that as many as half of the ICU patients would make a pledge, but in our pilot almost 90 percent did,” said Snidely.

“I remember being there on the ICU myself with my team, observing. And when the Chaplains were called to give our Last Rights program pitch a look came over the patient’s faces – serene, angelic. Some even began to cry. The idea of making a gift to our foundation meant that much to them. It was a beautiful thing to see. I cried, too.”

The new program will feature an upbeat, animated video called “You can still make it” in which a cartoon anesthesia machine talks to patients about the importance of leaving a legacy to the hospital in their will. As well, the Foundation has paid for new surgical masks and gowns for doctors and nurses to wear with the slogan “Have you left something to the hospital in your will?” in warm, friendly colors.

Snidely says the Foundation has been flooded with calls by other hospitals and health centers across the US looking for information on how to implement a Last Rights program.

“We’ve pioneered something here that many other hospitals want to use. It’s a powerful and simple way to make a planned gift pitch. It works because we’ve been able to identify the exact right audience for our planning giving message. These patients are just sucking it up,” he said.

Patient Dibble Brewer, who underwent open heart surgery last month, pledged more than $50,000 to the hospital after being exposed to the Last Rights program. He says it was a moving experience.

“I don’t honestly remember much, just feeling like I was outside my body looking down and someone wanted to have my money for something. Then I woke up and I was told I’d signed away all this money. I’m just glad to be alive,” he said.

“Legacy-making at the last moment on Earth. That’s what philanthropy is all about,” said Snidely.