As a leader in direct response consultation for children’s hospitals, Schultz & Williams was pleased to sponsor and attend this year’s Woodmark Summit, hosted by The Woodmark Group, in Calgary, Canada. Woodmark, located in Seattle, WA, is a nonprofit organization whose members are prominent children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. The Summit is primarily focused on helping members create and sustain strong and vibrant major gift cultures in support of their children’s hospitals.

Here are a few key takeaways and trends in children’s healthcare fundraising that we gleaned from the Summit:

Multi-Channel Integration

As the channels to reach donors continue to expand through new technologies and platforms, it will become increasingly important that messaging and creative design be seamlessly integrated. This integration and layering of channels will improve overall campaign performance, though it may also complicate the ability to attribute a donation to a specific channel. We know that a donor who receives a direct mail piece may go to the children’s hospital’s website to make an online donation. Or a Facebook ad may keep donors so engaged that they will then respond to a direct mail appeal. Or that an email may prompt donors to visit the hospital’s website, where a lightbox convinces them to click and give.

To ensure fundraising success, we will need to shift our approach to goal-setting and also focus on the larger picture of a multi-channel campaign. It may be impossible to identify the initial communication channel that inspired the gift, but ultimately the donor’s gift, regardless of channel, should be the most important metric.

Major and Planned Gifts

The world of major and planned gifts is ever-evolving, but one thing we have learned is not to underestimate the donor who sends a $25 check annually for 10 years. Stewardship efforts at every giving level are essential to keeping donors engaged and connected to our children’s hospitals, and cultivation is vital to attracting large gifts now or in the future. Listening to and respecting donors’ giving preferences; allowing them to become involved at a level they are comfortable with; and cultivating a relationship by communicating gratitude, the need for support and the impact of the gift are key factors to securing a donor’s larger commitment.


Children’s hospitals annual fund, major gifts, planned giving, and marketing and communications teams must work together in coordinating and integrating ask, cultivation and awareness efforts. Donors are inundated with information from various channels, so it’s vital to develop inclusive communications strategies across departments to ensure that donors are engaged but not confused by hospital outreach. Children’s hospitals which have experienced success with this approach suggest that one representative from each department attend monthly development meetings where strategy and collaboration opportunities can be shared.


Although it can be daunting, data is crucial to successful fundraising. Dedicating resources to invest in the upkeep, management and analysis of your data is no longer an option. Clean data are required in order to segment your donors; determine in what ways, when and how often you should be reaching out; and create donor-personalized experiences to break through the “multi-media noise.”


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As nonprofits everywhere face unprecedented challenges, S&W is stepping forward to help—working on rapid response strategies with our clients, curating resources for easy access, offering answers from our expert team, and bringing people together from across the nonprofit world to share ideas. The point, as we say, is Powering Missions That Matter—now at the moment they matter most.

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