Healthcare Philanthropy: It's Your Job

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , November 15, 2010
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Editor's note: This piece is based on Philip Betbeze's Oct. 1 online column. Visit, click on the Leadership tab, then the Leadership Corner link.

The people on your staff who work on increasing philanthropy for your organization have a tough job 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 United States 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.

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