Healthcare Philanthropy: It's Your Job

Philip Betbeze, October 1, 2010

Let me start by stipulating that I know you have people on your staff who work on increasing philanthropy for your organization. Heck, even if you're the CEO, you might not even have direct managerial control over them, for example, if your institution's foundation is a separate operating entity from your hospital or health system. You should know that their jobs are tough right now. But do you know how tough?

The statistics are sobering, and the recession has much to do with it... Charitable giving for nonprofit healthcare institutions dropped 11% in 2009, the latest period for which figures are available, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. That compares to an overall charitable giving decrease in the U.S. in 2009 of only 3.6%, according to Giving USA, a report compiled annually by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel.

What does this mean?

AHP, as I mentioned, largely blames the recession for the steep drop, but that doesn't account for the 7.4 more percentage points that healthcare giving dropped compared to general giving in 2009.

I speculate that there are other reasons people are less willing to give to healthcare organizations these days. Perhaps one is that many healthcare donations are of the epic variety. By that I mean several million dollars given at one time to an organization to build a new building named after somebody—in other words, big donations for big projects. That makes charitable giving for healthcare a little more volatile.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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