Healthcare Philanthropy Fell 11% in 2009

John Commins, September 28, 2010

Nonprofit healthcare institutions in the United States raised $7.6 billion in fiscal 2009, a decline of $944 million from fiscal 2008, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy's annual Report on Giving.

"Whether the recession ended in 2009 is for economists to debate, but its ripple effect certainly continued to curtail the ability of donors to give," said William C. McGinly, president/CEO of AHP. "It means fundraisers will have to work harder and smarter."

The largest declines were in cash donations, down $818 million from 2008, and secured pledges, which declined $97 million over the year. Amounts donated per dollar-spent to raise them also went down, from $3.51 in 2008 to $3.19 last year, a 9% decline.

"This downward trend is a very serious problem in the U.S." said Gregory Pope, chair of the AHP board and vice president of philanthropy for Saint Thomas Health Services Foundation in Nashville, TN. "It comes just as some in Congress want to make it difficult for taxpayers to earn deductions for their donations, and as healthcare reform puts new pressure on nonprofit hospitals to serve more patients."

More than four out of five contributors in the U.S. were individuals, and most of them had a direct relationship with the healthcare facility to which they gave, including patients, employees, physicians and board members. Other major donors were businesses and foundations, who together made about 12% of all donors, accounting for 28% of the funds raised.

There was little change over the year in the allocation of funds raised. U.S. nonprofit healthcare facilities devoted much of their donated money to construction and renovations (27.3%) and new equipment (18.4%). Eighteen percent of donated dollars went to fund charity care and community benefit programs, and 15% supported general operations. Donations were also used for endowments (6.5%), research and teaching (5.1%), hospice and long-term care (4%) and other purposes (5.6%).

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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